What Looks Review-Worthy This Season (Winter 2016 Edition)?

New season. New anime. Here’s my face whilst sifting through most of them.

Whilst I said I wouldn’t do first impressions, I’ve managed to find a loophole in regards to that statement. Now that the third episodes of a few shows have aired, any judgments I make on the show will be what I think of ’em thus far and nobody will really be looking to me for advice on what to watch because they’ve already seen everything and made said decisions themselves. Not to mention, whilst my thoughts will be in here, this post was mainly written to look at what I consider to be review-worthy out of Winter’s crop. So with that in mind, let’s get to it.

Mind you, I haven’t caught up on all of these shows because I haven’t ended my break yet (BTW, I’m never going to officially announce one of these again). Just the shows I find mildly enjoyable, along with some bad shows. Also, I didn’t try every show out there, so don’t expect any thoughts on stuff like Norn9 or Dagashi Kashi or Luck & Logic since I never bothered with ’em.

What I Definitely Won’t Review

Divine Gate

Whilst it isn’t as bad as some of the other shows I’m keeping on, Divine Gate’s first episode was so mediocre that I could not even finish it. I don’t really remember what happened in it either. I just remember the main character being an angsty douche and the visual style to be dull as sin.

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

Nah. Rakugo isn’t for me. I just can’t get into Japanese humor, let alone a show about Japanese humor.

Good Review Candidates

Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle

Definitely going to review this in the future. It’s so retardedly bad that it’s prime gold for ripping apart. Just hope my brain cells survive the trip.

Ajin

Need to wait for Netflix to pick this up since the current sub group Ajin has doesn’t seem to have English as either their first or second language. Nevertheless, I liked the first episode a fair amount and the rest of the show seems potentially enjoyable. Given how I need to review something I enjoy down the road, Ajin looks like a good bet.

Haruchika

Sound Euphonium isn’t exactly a favorite of mine, but I liked it enough to the point where I’d get offended if I saw another brass band anime that failed to live up to the standard it set. Of course, even if Euphonium didn’t exist, I’d still hate Haruchika with a passion, because it’s just Tari Tari again except somehow even worse. Whilst the idea to dive into conflict a lot quicker than either Euph or Tari Tari did initially seem like a good idea, the drama in regards to recruiting members is so shallow and barely has anything to do with music itself that it drains me. The rest of the show is no better, being composed of completely asinine slice-of-life scenes. Basically prime “this anime is so bad I’ve got to review it” material right here, assuming it doesn’t bore me so hard that I go into a coma.

Myriad Color Phantom World

I heard a lot of negative word on this anime prior to watching it and occasionally hear derision on Panty World to this day. Not really sure why. I just think it’s boring and not in a surprising way given that, well, it’s a fucking light novel adaptation. At least it’s appropriately energetic and lends itself to a cool scene once in a while, although the way it always ends with the male lead getting the short end of the stick along with the inconsequentiality of everything kills whatever possible impact could have come from it. Even KyoAni’s high-quality animation is just competent by their usual standards. Really, it’s because the studio put out such a plain show (by their standards) that I’m interested in reviewing it. Hey, I never jumped on the Nisekoi bandwagon.

Active Raid

My god this show is awful! Yeah yeah, I know that it’s not well-liked as is considering its low position on MAL, A-P, and my own friend who likes cute girl stuff and Geass dropping this show within the first half of Episode 1, but Active Raid really pisses me the fuck off. Similar to Haruchika, it’s trying to be an anime I enjoy (in this case, Psycho-Pass by way of Patlabor), but it’s Jormungand-levels of fail in trying to live up to them. It has the worst integration of humor I’ve ever seen in an anime in forever, actively getting in the way of the characterization and the pacing. The mecha scenes suck balls. The antagonists are a joke. It NEVER calms the fuck down. The boss looks like she’s ten. Why do people try to defend this show to me?

In short, plenty to rip apart when it finishes. Just not sure if I’ll do each cour separately or wait for it all to air.

Durarara!!x2 Ketsu

We all know I’m going to review this. I did the other two cours and there’s no way I’m quitting now. Having said that, fuck Durarara. We’re two episodes into the last cour and they’re still doing nothing but having the characters talk to each other?! I’m tired of the exposition spouting and comedic banter, Durarara. Do something interesting (you won’t)!

Gate 2

I wasn’t really satisfied with my first review of Gate. The fact that I had only an hour and a half to write it due to some stuff going on in my life at the time didn’t help, but whilst the show is a mess of crappy military glorification, it didn’t give me the epic badness I was expecting. And whilst the way Gate’s continuation opened up sort of delves into there (bunny rape?), it’s not really enough to get that angry about, mostly because of how retarded it is. Basically, I just want to try tackling this show again. See if the 2nd half lends itself to a better review.

ERASED

Of course I’m reviewing this. It’s the community’s darling, and the fact that I actually enjoy it seals the deal even further. The premise is good. The execution is interesting. It’ll definitely have a conclusive ending according to the director. Let’s do this, bitch.

Unsure If I’ll Review This

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash

All I remember about the first episode is that it had way too much talking/world-building and that the characters were bog-standard. My friends seem to like this show, but they like Log Horizon too (before Deen screwed things up) and I found that show to be too dialogue-heavy. I’ll definitely finish it and I’m set on reviewing it for similar reasons to Phantom World, but I can’t summon up as much enthusiasm here because it’s not being as actively bad.

Prince of Stride

To be honest, I don’t remember any of what I’ve seen of this show (only the first episode, and even then I didn’t watch the whole thing). My main reason for wanting to try this one is because I’ve never reviewed an otome anime before and considering the director’s resume, it looks like it’ll be energetic enough to get me by. Plus, I exercise by running as well.

Dimension W

This show is really average to me. Lots of stuff that’s potentially enjoyable, but it hasn’t been able to achieve anything other than a “watchable” score from me right now, which falls into a sort of middle ground that’s neither good enough to praise or bad enough to thrash. Part of the problem is that the direction is very plain, causing the action to be a little tedious to watch (and the visual tricks to be stupid). Part of the problem is that I’m not sure what the story of this show is yet. It just seems to be a “let’s explore this futuristic setting through our two leads” kind of story so far, which isn’t enough to excite me.

Finally, while it’s going for post-war themes like Bones’ good shows (I know this show is somehow related to Darker than Black, but I can’t remember how), the thing is that those shows were based on actual historical events in order to give their themes weight. Maria the Virgin Witch was based on the Hundred Years’ War. Part of the reason I like Kill la Kill more than Gurren Lagann is because how the enemy resembled Nazi Germany in the former whilst the latter’s conflict was just well executed but typical fictional super robot stuff. I don’t have a clue what Dimension W’s energy conflicts are based on, and I struggle to care about war/post-war themes and all the things it has to say about technological evolution when they don’t have any strong real-world grounding.

Shoujo-tachi Blablabla

I kind of want to review this given it’s Romeo Tanaka who wrote the original visual novel and his stuff is always fun to look at/mock. Unfortunately, Shoujo-tachi is a little too dry and phoned-in for my taste (so basically, not much different from Humanity Has Declined). People just talk about making visual novels and…that’s it. Gonna need more than that.

Bubuki Buranki

Really generic. Might drop this later on because as of now, all it has going for it is its energetic CG, and that’s not enough to hide how it feels like I’m watching an outline of a story rather than a proper story with actual characters and stakes.

The Venture Brothers Season 6

Hasn’t actually aired yet and it’s a Western cartoon, but we all know I’m gonna watch it and it’s popular enough in the anime community so it gets a mention here. Venture Brothers isn’t really a show that’s suitable for my usual reviewing style though, so I don’t know if I’ll actually write about it once it’s done.

54 responses to “What Looks Review-Worthy This Season (Winter 2016 Edition)?

  1. Active Raid is, as a matter of fact, a joke. And that’s completely fine by me.

    I’m not surprised about your friend nor about the low scores since the series is absolutely nothing like Code Geass at all. It has no such ambitions and even the director from that series is only the chief director here, so the guy is not remotely as hands-on about this show.

    The guy who is the actual director was on Bakuman and also made a comedy last season, that Dandelion series or whatever it was called. And Jormungand? That one felt closer to Black Lagoon and also had more pretensions of realism, with the technical detail of the weapons and world politics talk, even with the supervillain elements and all the goofy smiles/eyes.

    The writer responsible is Naruhisa Arakawa, who brings a lot of Tokusatsu/Super Sentai influence. I have to imagine he’s probably landed a spot on your most hated list by now since your main complaints seem to be targeting that area.

    I’d argue the show calmed down enough in episode 2 and got some characterization done there. I didn’t have any issues with the mecha action, even if it’s going for more silliness rather than pure excitement, but clearly we are not seeing eye-to-eye here.

    So for me Active Raid is not really trying to be Psycho-Pass in any particularly sincere way and it is arguably far more openly ridiculous than even Patlabor ever wanted to be. Which includes being corny, cheesy and loving to wallow in that. Needless to say, this is not what a lot of the Internet wants to see, but there are folks who can dig it. An evidently outnumbered minority, but that’s alright.

    • My comparison was directed towards how Geass and Jormungand ruined their tone and premise with their shitty humor. As for the rest of your arguments, we’re just going to have to disagree on whether or not Active Raid is funny.

      • Well, good luck telling that to all the Jormungand and Code Geass fans who liked the presence of “shitty humor” in both of them. One became a mega-hit and the other was at least decently popular for a moment in time.

        Though I’d argue they both attempted to pull off a more consistent approach, in their own ways, with more structured narratives. They weren’t quite as hectic as Active Raid, even with their occasional silly distractions.

        We certainly are in disagreement. I don’t think it’s high brow humor, for heaven’s sake no, but it is amusing enough.

    • Jormungand is quite possibly one of the most worthless anime I’ve seen in a long time. The action scenes were so bad that watching them physically drained me and the story was a giant pile of dog turd with one of the worst endings I’ve ever seen in a series. Why am I not surprised that the director is currently ruining Utawerumono?

  2. I approached active raids first episode in the same way I would have some sunrise stuff, trash/wreck appeal that lasts maybe a few episodes, I still do the so bad its good thing sometimes, but I got mt fill of that in one episode I don’t think I’ll be going back to it. I laughed but likely not for the reasons I was meant to.

    Dimension Ws artist/author did a darker than black manga side story, I believe he may also have provided the character designs.

    I want to see potential in shoujo-tachi I really do but what you’ve said about it fairly squares up on how I felt about it.

    I’ll admit, haruchika’s first episode twist caught me, but the character drama is too drama of the week for me, the mysteries are just one episode things and are rather bland. I’ll stick with Hyouka and one day rewatch that.

    I wasn’t able to finish divine gates first episode and the emo-ness of the leads inner thoughts really put me off as did the generic psycho that showed up.

    I’m sure that I’m not the only one who couldn’t stomach the gung-ho-ness/right wing nationalist approach of gate. Too hard to swallow for me and I didn’t like the shows visual direction.

    I got something of a headache watching phantom world, well animated no doubt but used for lacklustre action and stuck in honestly a particularly obnoxious show.

    I’ve avoided further iterations of durara due to not finishing the first season. But it seems I made the right decision to get out of it early.

    Erased, I have read the manga for, I’ve also read other manga by the author and I’m worried about the ending because of that. Erased’s manga was often weakly paced at points but it had good cliffhangers, the anime is improving on the pace and mood but I felt those abuse scenes were done a bit too heavy handedly. There was a very overly-obvious shot when that teacher showed up in episode 3.
    Unless I’ve remembered wrong, the killer does try to attack a boy but by mistake.

    Thats it really, I haven’t bothered with anything else.
    I did watch muv-luv schwartzemarken and despite that I haven’t been a mecha fan since gundam seed and 00/geass ruined the genre for me, I was actually pretty impressed with this show, the morbid/macabre atmosphere and I’m big on cold war settings and its quite violent, a few characters have potential.

    • Don’t see what’s so funny about Active Raid. It’s just a bunch of intentional humor that falls flat (dancing robot? WTF?) and clashes violently with the setting, making unintentional humor impossible.

      I don’t get what’s so good about Haruchika’s twist. I thought it was stupid and not at all worth the journey it took to get there.

      Also, I have zero interest in anything Muv-Luv related.

      • Nah, not so much that it was a good twist (wasn’t really), more that it just came out of nowhere and surprised me because I didn’t expect that. I also think its too drawn out and the character art is offensive to my eyes.

        On rakugo I think the interest people are getting from it is that it will potentially give an interesting look at its setting, they see the cast of adult characters and its about something different than the norm, it catches my attention for those reasons but while there might be some good drama to come, its not all that funny to me, I need a few more episodes before coming to a conclusion on whether to continue.

      • Well, you don’t need to be some lover of the subject matter to appreciate the show if it’s good on its own… I loved Hikaru no Go and it’s not like I’m a go fanatic, I didn’t even know it existed before reading that manga in fact. I think if anything this anime is raising interest about rakugo, which of course is a pretty unknown form of theatre in the west. Still, the show seems good on its own merits, and the rakugo performances, whether you find them actually funny or not, are good to watch even simply for the acting abilities they require.

      • In regards to Hikaru no Go, what I liked about the show was Hikaru’s naivete as he stumbled into a world he didn’t comprehend like I did and grew to enjoy the game like I did. I wouldn’t exactly call him “me”, but as a teen, that sort of story really resonated with me at the time. I never got the same feeling from either Chihayafuru or Rakugo. The subject matter never interested me and their wasn’t a Kong or an Akira to hold my attention.

  3. I have read ajins manga and I’m still unsure whether or not I like the protag or not, the action is enjoyable but sometimes the series feels a bit forced.
    I didn’t really mind the animes cg as much as I thought I would.

  4. With regards to Ajin, I’d say it’s best to just watch the movie. Pretty much everything from that 1st episode was lifted from the film’s 1st 20 minutes anyway, including the OP. It has better subs and it will give you a better idea of whether or not the TV series will be worth following from week-to-week

  5. >Why do people try to defend this show to me?

    Perhaps because it’s one of the easy targets of the season, and those who don’t mind it are wondering why all the other lame shows are getting a relative pass from just about everyone, including you. I mean, by the standards you apply to Active Raid, plenty of shows are trash-tier (Dimension W, Phantom World, Ajin.. ESPECIALLY Divine Gate), but you seem to be basically unable to come up with any harsh criticism of them beyond them feeling “generic” or having a lame translation. I can understand that if time is at a premium, but picking on an underdog anime feels wince-worthy given how critically awful the anime this season are (with maybe two exceptions). Sure, they can still be enjoyed on some level, but then so can Active Raid.

    • Whether an anime is an underdog or not is irrelevant to me, especially since I generally don’t read most anime news or keep up with what most of the community likes. I only learned of its low status because a friend told me.

      As for why I find Active Raid worse than the shows you listed, I’d need like a thousand words to get that across so not gonna bother elaborating here.

      • >Whether an anime is an underdog or not is irrelevant to me

        You’re not the one I was referring to, but rather the theoretical people who I figured might be replying to you. They could easily see it as an underdog with all the anti-hype playing out. Note that I don’t actually know if those people actually exist in this case, but it’s one explanation that I’ve seen play out time and time again over the years.

        >I’d need like a thousand words to get that across

        Well all you’ve given so far is subjective stuff; you have issues with the comedy and artwork, but offer no real analysis. If you’re not going to even articulate any more critical/”objective” reasons (which is fair, assuming time-constraints), then why even ask people why they defend the show? That’s like saying “I hate this flavor of potato chip, why do people even try to defend them?” And let’s not even kid ourselves into thinking that any of the anime I’ve mentioned hold up on a critical level. They’re all different flavors of potato chips, not a four-star chef’s main course.

      • Saying the humor gets in the way of the characterization and the pacing IS a critical reason (I refuse to use the word objective because I’ve never claimed to be objective on this blog and never will). And it does. I will never find shows with characters that have no relatable flaws intriguing and I will never find sexual harassment funny. But it would help if your pacing wasn’t so rushed to the point that you keep switching character focus every two minutes just so you can cram an hour’s worth of material into 22-minute chunks.

        And let’s not even kid ourselves into thinking that any of the anime I’ve mentioned hold up on a critical level.

        I don’t even know what that means. Plus, you do realize you’re talking to a guy whose favorite genre is exploitation? Whose favorite films include The Toxic Avenger, Caligula, Riki-Oh, Meet the Feebles, and so on and so forth?

      • Well, I certainly have no problem accepting “I dislike the assortment of anime-isms in this anime” as your argument. I just don’t see why it should bother you that others are defending it, if we’re talking about plain subjectivity. That’s kind of what happens when you tear into something based on tastes – others will want to mention their tastes, too.

        >Plus, you do realize you’re talking to a guy whose favorite genre is exploitation?

        I do, which is why I’m so surprised this show rubbed you the wrong way to such a degree. It’s good to know that it’s an example of what you dislike, though.

  6. Just to have my own share of thoughts. Shouwa Rakugo is to Kids on the Slope in terms of rich characterization and as well as to rakugo is to jazz in terms of its backdrop. That is because both are having some excellent character moments and soundtrack. I kind of understand that the subject is easy to appreciate but I do not have a thing for Jazz too when I saw Kids on the Slope and it still ended up as one of my most favorite animes of all time.

    • Rakugo comes off more like Chihayafuru than Kids on the Slope if you ask me. Kids on the Slope wasn’t only about jazz either. It was also about religion, lost love, and how its specific time period affected all that. Yeah, I know Rakugo takes place during WWII, but…well…fuck WWII.

      • I haven’t seen any war yet, I think the “present day” is around the 60s-70s, and the flashbacks are probably pre-war Japan. Still need to check out episode 3 though. Anyway I got the feeling Rakugo too is about rivalry, coping with loss, the multiple roads to talent and artistic success, and probably a handful other things. Just admit it, it’s simply that the rakugo rubs you the wrong way. There’s character work here too, why else would so much people watch it? Do you think there was such a huge fandom for rakugo waiting for an anime that would finally give it the chance to shine? Most of us had never heard of it prior to watching episode 1.

      • I meant that the time period doesn’t really draw me in either, higgs. Yes, the rakugo is the main reason why I can’t get into the show, but samui’s arguments regarding its similarities to Kids on the Slope aren’t going to draw me in either, especially since it comes off more like Chihayafuru. And I didn’t like Chihayafuru one bit.

      • Hello. A bit of a late reply but the character interaction of Shin-chan and Yakumo is basically similar with Bon and Sen of Kids on the Slope. That’s why I see the comparison. Well, Chihaya-what? is also a Josei manga so… I think there will be similarities with these types of animes.

      • Well, it seems less grounded in the history of its time all right – at most it captures the mood. I was just surprised at you mentioning WWII because I don’t think anything has suggested that’s the period we’re looking at.

      • Ah, that explains it. No, it’s wrong. The main storyline is definitely contemporary of Kids on the Slope. There’s a flashback now which I don’t know how long is going to last though.

  7. I think am watching/reading of dimension w is out of desperation for a cyberpunk type story. I’ve read on in the manga, I don’t like the comedy very much or the dynamic/interactions between the two leads, the fanservice involving the robot girl while not overly frequent was annoying, it could do with a bit more action too, the fights are competent at best but it gets bogged down with wordiness, the characters also need to be brought a bit further and theres a lack of a solid bad guy. However the action scenes are watchable enough and the tech involving the dimension and the coils is getting potentially more interesting.
    If its adapted theres an upcoming arc that if you were been generous could say adds something small to the setting.

    tldr : I don’t think I especially love or hate this series.

    • I dunno. The show just comes off to me like a watchable series I can pass time with and then quickly forget. And whilst I’m not particularly a cyberpunk fan, if I was, I’d be disappointed that Dimension W is the best we can manage.

      • The only thing which makes me want to watch Dimension W is the action and my apparent bias that an MC is not a teenager. I am not minding the story anymore. I mean, that was a grand episode in paper but managed to be.. just.. like that. Worse? There’s a Magata Shiki cameo too. Ugh. I am still lukewarm to this show too.

      • Yeah.. Apparently my own set of bias. Active Raid… I am stunned by its well, own charms which rubbed the viewers the wrong way. Hahaha. Have fun ripping it to shreds.

      • I’ll never understand what it is people find compelling about Active Raid. It looks ugly, the story/characters are completely lacking, AND it’s smug about its lack of substance to the point of irritability.

      • … but those pop ups in episode two! Then, nothing followed.

        It tries to make us laugh but I am wondering where is the joke between those loudly delivered lines. Well, here I am thinking it could at least please the fujoshi fanbase but given THAT artwork so no. I am still not fully recovered by the aftertaste of that disgusting third episode.

      • Episode 2 was when I found the show to be the opposite of entertainment. The one with all the sexual harassment, giving the incredibly young-looking boss a sister who looks exactly like her, and focusing a majority of the screentime on her for no reason. There is no way anyone’s convincing me that show is funny. If you have a lighthearted scenario and you don’t follow the rules, then it’s impossible to be comedic.

      • I am only referring to the pop ups that showed in the screen, I smirked then that’s it. Nonetheless, the future is not looking bright for Active Raid for all reasons justified.

        I am more actually excited if it gets more brainless as it is now than the main plot of the show.

      • It’s the kind of joke that a writer who doesn’t have any ideas in his head puts out in desperation in order to meet a deadline. Fluke hit it may be, but at least it’s executed genuinely.

      • I don’t know if you are following shorts this season but I am actually more amazed with these than in proper series this season (Dagashi Kashi relies too much on Ecchi, Active Raid is just ugh, Haruchika’s attempt on humor is mostly miss). I even find Satoru’s I-said-it-aloud funnier than these shows this season.

      • No I’m not following the shorts. And I agree that Satoru’s loud thoughts are cute. Really hope he goes back to being a kid soon, because the stuff he has to deal with as an adult kinda bores me.

      • I still haven’t seen the last episode but I am set on marathoning this week by tomorrow. I am really shocked by its overwhelming reception on MAL. I know it’s good and it’s the best looking and the best sounding show with a proper mystery this season but… really? 9.04?!

      • 9.06 actually as of this time of writing.

        As for the latest episode, we’re transitioning into a new arc and I’m not a fan of it so far. The manga fans have told me this arc sucked in the manga too, so it looks like I’ll have to deal with two (and hopefully no more) weak episodes before the show interests me again. And by two, I mean including the latest one.

      • I agreed. Episode 4 is actually weak compared to the last three Erased episodes. Save for some cute moments and that ending, the episode offered next to none. The said can be said with Rakugo (although you are not following htat), both offered not so interesting offerings last week. Hence, the poorly managed (in terms of airing) Lupin III eats the cake that week.

      • I was referring to Episode 5 actually. 4 was predictable and showed signs of cheap emotional manipulation, but I gave it a bit of a pass because it was developing Kayo’s character whilst tying said development into the story in a way that was interesting enough. I don’t like 5 because Satoru hasn’t grown to be engaging as a protagonist and it removed him from the situations that made his journey fun to watch, replacing it with predictable plot turns and cheap drama. But you’ll see when you get to it.

  8. Durarara’s weird because it might never going to end but it’s also probably never going to be able to justify its length. I couldn’t imagine continuing with it even if I’d stuck with it as long as you did. I don’t know though, maybe my problem is that I find parts of it more irritating than boring because of Izaya.

    • Nostalgia for anime that aren’t even good by today’s standard is the only reason Narita adaptations get a free pass despite them getting worse and worse with each one.

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