Summer 2015 First Impressions — Part 2

The gauntlet continues.

Index

  • Part One: Gakkou Gurashi, Gatchaman Crowds Insight, Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace, Gangsta, Chaos Dragon and Okusama ga Seitokaichou
  • Part Two: Prison School, Classroom☆Crisis, Gate, Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou, and Various Shorts
  • Charlotte: Episodes 1 and 2

For an explanation of the format I’m using, look to the first part.

There is no more time for delay, but first, I must kick things off with a special segment…

Shadow’s Rapid Fire Shorts Round Robin

Summer 2015 Anime Episode 1 and 2 Review - Wooser, Teekyuu, Miss Monochrome, Danchigai, Wakaba Girl, Million Doll, Wakako-zake

Teekyuu 5

  • It’s almost like Teekyuu never left us… what d’you mean it didn’t? Almost 2 weeks without it was hard.
  • I like the new OP much more than the one for S4.
  • The girls continue to do absolutely everything apart from playing tennis. Adhering to this tradition is Shameless Fanservice. I like this.

Wakaba*Girl — (eps 1+2)

  • This is from the original creator of Kiniro Mosaic. Hanada Jukki doing scripts.
  • Pretty backgrounds with many nice shades of pink.
  • There’s nothing really distinctive about the humour here at all, reminds me of a less-good Morita-san wa Mukuchi.
  • Main character annoys me…
  • I can’t really see myself watching more of this.

Miss Monochrome: The Animation 2 — (eps 1+2)

  • Sequel to one of my favourite short anime, which came out originally in 2013.
  • Miss Monochrome herself is created and voiced by Horie Yui.
  • Ahaha, Ru-chan has a voice now, and its Hiroshi Kamiya, Arararagi-bot anyone?
  • The OP is kinda meh, but the ED is fantastic and super pretty. Wish other idol anime had CG on this level.
  • First episode was mainly a reintroduction, ep2 was a return to the fun shenanigans.
  • Maneo-san continues to be as useless as ever.
  • Mana-chan taking advantage of Monochrome’s blind trust is great.
  • Gotta love how she spontaneously transforms into a car Utena-style. This Initial D scene is really well made.
  • Aaaand new promoter Yayoi is voiced by Asumi Kana, of-course she has a dual-personality.
  • Longer episode lengths, this is good.

Wooser no Sono Higurashi: Mugen-hen (Wooser’s Hand-to-Mouth Life: Phantasmagoric Arc) — (eps 1+2)

  • This season of Wooser will have a different guest writer every episode, even including Urobuchi.
  • The main reason to watch this show though, is Miyano Mamoru. And references, lots of references.
  • Starting right off with the end of S2, and Wooser going out in a blaze of glory.
  • Seems episode 1 is a massive Ultraman reference.
  • Longer episode length lends well to each episode telling a self-contained story as opposed to a bunch of unrelated sketches. I like this, making good use of the new writers every episode.
  • Really like the art style and song for the new ED.

Million Doll

  • All the staff for this have barely done anything before.
  • Character designs aren’t that great, very bland, and lacking in personality. Might be intentional, but who knows.
  • This is about a tweeter/blogger who reviews idols. How could I not relate?
  • I also really appreciate how cynical it is about the idol industry and its fans.
  • Pretty interested to see where this series can go!

Danchigai

  • Vibrant character designs and colourful backgrounds.
  • From elder sister being the “mature onee-san” type, to the middle sister being a tsundere, to the young twins being genki, everyone’s just a stereotype.
  • Comes across as a dude living in a harem with 4 of his sisters.
  • I’ll give it one more episode. Seems like boilerplate 4-koma stuff to me.

Wakako-zake — (eps 1+2)

  • Miyuki Sawashiro talking about food and sake.
  • The wide-eyed character design is very endearing.
  • Very nice attention to detail in both the backgrounds and the food, at contrast to the simple characters themselves.
  • This is the only one of the shorts I talked about not being simulcast, however I recommend it a lot. Super relaxing and fun 2 minutes every week.
[Mori] Wakako-zake - 01 [C190060B].mkv_snapshot_01.01_[2015.07.13_03.48.34]
I must say, this is one of the best seasons for short anime I have seen in a really long time. But now, back onto the meatier stuff…

Prison School (Kangoku Gakuen)

Notabilities: An adaptation of the notoriously infamous ecchi comedy manga with a cult following. The anime will be directed by Mizushima Tsutomu of Shirobako and Girls und Panzer fame.

Summer 2015 Prison School, Kangoku Gakuen  Anime Episode 1 Review Midorikawa Hana
Midorikawa Hanazawa Kana

I’ll be honest here. Prison School is one of the few shows I have actually read some of the source material for prior to the anime’s airing. I had been aware of its existence for almost a year before, and seen various funny panels from it, however, I had yet to read the thing myself. Recently, I got curious, and caved.

I didn’t like it, at all. Firstly I’ll say, that even as someone who’s not big into reading manga, I could tell that the artist had a talent for panel pacing and structure to aid comedic effect, and was very good at drawing those hyper-detailed and heavily shaded stills for the absurd over-reaction moments. Those are the elements I appreciate, but everything else about it, not so much. I’ll get to that later, but for now, the anime.

Summer 2015 Prison School, Kangoku Gakuen  Anime Episode 1 Review
Lots of creative camera angles and playing with perspective add to the unexpectedness of each new absurd, shocking twist. Timing is key, and its always spot on.

It’s funny. It’s really funny. A lot of thought has gone into transitioning the strengths of the manga into animated form, this director is very talented at snappy comedy, so he was a great choice. Prison School isn’t lavishly animated, but it is very competently produced, work has gone into recreating those detailed character designs and over-the-top reaction faces directly from paper to screen, and keeping them on-model. Colourful effects like the red tinge of the sun and the heavy blue of disgust on someone’s face add a lot to the atmosphere. Vocal talents like Hanazawa Kana and Kamiya Hiroshi totally steal the show with their unrestrained ham, which caused me to burst into laughter multiple times.

It’s fair to say that Prison School is an honest adaptation with a lot of effort put into it. It’s fair to say that the original manga itself has a lot of effort put into it too. However, honest it is not. Sincere it is not. Endearing it is not. This goes further than the graphic nudity and violence ever-present, of which there is a lot. I’ve heard the stories behind the backstory of why Prison School was created by the mangaka, something of a revenge for the cancellation of his prior serialised work. And it shows. The sole attitude and world-view that is present in Prison School, even though I doubt the sincerity of it, is one of hate. Hate for women. Hate for men. Hate for well… everyone.

Status: Being the trashiest trash to ever trash doesn’t mean you aren’t still trash.

Recommendations: Err, there kind of isn’t anything else out there quite like Prison School.

Classroom☆Crisis

Notabilities: It has the director of Gundam Build Fighters in addition to the music composer who did amazing tracks for Gundam Build Fighters, Death Parade and Robotics;Notes. And most importantly for me, the series composer is Maruto Fumiaki, who was behind both White Album 2 and Saekano, both shows I really like. This writer has shown he can become a great screenwriter, from originally just working on VNs and LNs. But both of those shows were adaptations of his own source material. This is an anime-original project, so I’m very interested to see how we will handle this new challenge.

Summer 2015 Classroom Crisis Anime Episode 1 Review

The star in the title is quite an appropriate addition for Classroom☆Crisis, not only because of its setting, but because of the quite literally star-studded collection of staff behind it, including voice talents. The setting indeed, is one that is unorthodox in many ways, but Crisis approaches its story with a whole lot of confidence, both in itself, and in you, the audience.

It knows exactly what it wants to achieve within its first episode, and goes about ticking all the boxes, still weaving an interesting story while doing so. The first episode of Crisis is densely-packed, both with worldbuilding and characterisation, and it takes a talented writer to deliver all that information to us both naturally and without tiring us with exposition. This show has a talented writer. It also has a talented director. And they work together to weave our story setup in between conveying all the information we need to know to understand the current stakes of what is currently going on.

It takes a lot of confidence to drop us right into a set of already existing and interacting characters without knowing anything about them, and then to rely on their naturally-flowing dialogue to tell us everything, without any introduction. This is the method by which Crisis lets us know about its cast, but also in how it lets us infer knowledge of the setting. We aren’t even explicitly told this series is taking place in a Space Colony. Only an off-hand mention of Ganymede, and a short shot of the spinning, curved insides of the colony let us in on the “secret”, until the end of the episode, which reveals that our story is taking place on Tokyo-4, a space colony on the surface of Mars.

It is only then, that we get our grand voice-over introduction from a narrator, that catches anyone else up to speed, and sets us up for a fantastic, ambitious adventure. This was a Good debut episode, likely my favourite of the season, but it will take a lot of time, words and space to dig into everything it does so well. Therefore, expect an episodic post covering eps 1 and 2, by the time episode 3 hits the air, and by the time I am done with these first impressions posts, look forward to it!

Status: Omega Good Job!

Recommendations: Robotics;NotesSteins;Gate and ChäoS;HEAd, all entries in the SciADV series which take a similar approach to blending character drama and science fiction. Also check out last season’s Plastic Memories, though your mileage may vary.

Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri (Thus the JSDF Fought There!)

Notabilities: Adaptation of the popular Light Novel series. As with Classroom Crisis above, we got a director and music composer from another Sunrise show, Love Live! School Idol Project, and an experienced series composition writer who’s worked on titles ranging from Monster, to Cardcaptor Sakura to Haganai, and even this season’s Rokka no Yuusha.

Summer 2015 Gate Anime Episode 1 Review
Trust me, this is definitely the most appropriate picture.

I’ll get this out of the way first, Gate is a product that A-1 Pictures clearly sees a lot of potential in, as opposed to their entries last season Denpa Kyoushi and Gunslinger Stratos, this is one that clearly has a lot put into it. It’s sharp, its well-animated, it screams blockbuster appeal.

That is true of not just the visuals, but the content. Itami Youji is a 33 year old. Not a high-schooler, huh, my interested is piqued. Oh wait no he is actually an Otaku, I see the audience is supposed to relate to him on that angle. I will list a few occurrences that actually took place in episode 1 of Gate:

  • Youji’s first reaction to fellow citizens being slaughtered by an alien threat is to worry about the event he was planning to go to being cancelled.
  • Youji finds a small girl, crying alone, whose mother is probably dead, he reassures her while dramatic music is playing. Cut to black. Internal monologue: “I didn’t get to buy a doujinshi”
  • Tanks drive through the gate, as we get a triumphant fanfare of music over gratuitous, almost fetishistic detailed pans over the machinery. Cut to inside the tank, and talk of Catgirls.

Youji is not a character. He is simply a window for us to view the story through. He gets to be a strong, cool badass who kills an enemy with a knife. He also gets to be the “endearing” bumbling Otaku fool we can (hopefully) relate to. All these above events caused me to raise my eyebrows, laugh in scorn and disbelief even.

But then: I saw an Attack Helicopter shoot down a Dragon.

I’ll make it clear now, I’ve found Gate to be pretty solid popcorn entertainment, it reminded me of the recent movie Jurassic “I’TS KILLING FOR SPORT” World in the gusto with which it straight-facedly depicts its stupidity. There is a vast gulf in quality between the competently executed action and the boilerplate writing, but sometimes I am in the mood for watching a blockbuster and that is okay, it’s okay.

Status: Watching for now, but this is 2 cours so I could easily get tired of it.

Recommendations: Tetsurou Araki’s blockbuster productions are ones Gate cannot hold a candle to, and ones I would recommend watching instead: Death Note, Attack on Titan, Highschool of the Dead, Guilty Crown.

Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou (Everyday Life with Monster Girls)

Notabilities: Yoshihara Tatsuya, a great Key Animator mainly known for that, has recently gone into directing, delivering the energetically animated series Yoru no Yatterman. He brings with him the same writer who did series composition for that, along with a bunch of other titles besides, of vastly varying qualities. We can expect MonMusu to be a very visually interesting show at the least.

Summer 2015 Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou Anime Episode 1 Review, MonMusu, Everyday Life With Monster Girls, Lamia
#Same

MonMusu is cute. MonMusu is lewd. MonMusu is funny. MonMusu is pretty.

Oh wait, you wanted me to talk more about it than that? Err, anything I would have to elaborate upon it would just be a list of shallow, nitpicky grievances, one’s that prevented me from enjoying most of it. I did however find Kobayashi Yuu’s character, Smith, very funny indeed.

Most of my complaints boil down to the premise being incredibly arbitrary and the reasons for our girls to like our milquetoast lead summarising as just “because he’s kind”, those aren’t exactly revolutionary criticisms though. The only thing I legitimately disliked was the lip-service attempts at characterising the discrimination the Demihumans face. It felt like more of an excuse for them to run off to the love hotel than anything else.

I guess I just didn’t like how the show displayed no creativity beyond its initial twist of the haremettes being Monster Girls. I know that’s the main attraction here, but I think there are many more interesting ways to take this spin. Also, why are all the demihumans female?

Status: Miia a cute. Papi also a cute, that’s why I’ll watch episode 2.

Recommendations: Bakemonogatari, The World God Only Knows and Haganai all try to do much more with their own twists on “the harem genre”.

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