Monday, January 29, 2018
Winter 2018 Anime Season First Impressions
Now with the 2018 Winter Anime Season underway, it's now time for me to write up my first impressions on the series I am watching and layout the structures and rules for this feature going forward in the future. First off a new rule is I have to have watched at least a minimum of three episodes of a series in a given season to give the first impression. As I have thought in the past think it is unfair to judge an entire series on the basis of only one episode. So, for this reason, I will not be covering Today's Menu for Emiya Family as I've only seen one episode although if someone wants a kinder and gentler alternative universe version of the Fate/Stay Night universe and is put off by the Lolicon elements in Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya it's something I can recommend. Also, I won't be covering Kaijuu Girls: Ultra Kaijuu Gijinka Keikaku 2nd Season. As that is the second season of a series that premiered in 2016. I don't cover second seasons to keep the coverage of the Anime of the given season on the blog based on what is new this season. As I could as easily end up covering nothing but long-running Shonen series if I felt so inclined if I allowed second seasons to be covered. Of course, since I am covering Basilisk: Ouka Ninpouchou does that not negate the very rule you are trying to enforce? Some might ask. I would say no since Basilisk: Ouka Ninpouchou is a sequel not a direct continuation of an existing series like a split cour or second season. Also, I'll make sure to list what Streaming Service I watched the series on and how many episodes I watched in parenthesis beside the title along with trying to focus on particular members of the staff and cast and Seiyuu. Also, do not expect a summary of the episodes I have watched as I gave a summary of the shows being discussed in this post's plots on my Blog Update and What I Plan To Watch During The Winter 2018 Anime Season post back on Monday, December 18, 2017 Koi wa Ameagari no You ni being an exception since that was an addition at the last minute to the schedule. So this will focus on my impressions on technical merits of enumerated staff and voice talent. Not a synopsis of the first three episodes than my impressions. Now on to the impressions Proper starting with Basilisk: Ouka Ninpouchou (four episodes viewed on Crunchyroll): this series feels less a sequel to Basilisk: Kouga Ninpou Chou and more like an odd spiritual successor to the Hamasaki, Hiroshi Directed Shigurui: Death Frenzy. With its stilted camerawork slow almost ponderous pacing and deliberate focus on unnerving mood and tone over the bloody spectacle of Basilisk: Kouga Ninpou Chou. Along with a focus on the seeming inevitability of death and court intrigue. Helped along with the Series Composition by Oonishi, Shinsuke ( Script for Mayoiga and script for Fractale (episodes 5, 8). Capturing an overly bleak and fatalistic worldview with hints at Shakespearian Tragedy. While Color Design by Nakao, Fusako (Color Design for Skullman and Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas)captures a muted dreary color pallet in a world filled with fog and night raids. This ethos is only helped along by Chief Animation Director Maki, Takao ( Animation Director (episode 5) of Youjo Senki) whose previous work on Youjo Senki is shown in the slow deliberate way battles are carried out with less focus on superpowers and more on a slow mental torture being inflicted on characters. While Sound Director Yokota, Chikako (Sound Director on Love Stage! And Vivid Strike) is able to capture the grit of dirt under a sandal or the "whoosh" of flame. Or the clash of steel against steel or the squishy almost gelatinous sound of flesh being cut with the blade. Director Junji Nishimura (Director of Simoun, Glasslip, True Tears, and Vivid Strike). Meanwhile is at least competently able to position the camera giving that aforementioned stilted feeling a sense of claustrophobia as well. While Hibiki Iga (Voiced by Inori Minase voiced Noel in Sora no Method and Nagisa "Iron Lady" Aizawa in Jitsu wa Watashi wa) is still very much a slow developing character given that very little focus is given on much of the cast. Still one is able to feel Hibiki's apprehension and Minase does her best with such slight characterization. In short, the slow pace feels more akin to the era from which its predecessor came from to the often frenetic pace of current era shows. Thankfully the series is 24 episodes so the slow pace does allow for more development. Still, this is more a series I want to like that I actually do like as four episodes in not much has happened other than shadowy plots. Although I find the new emphasis on psychological interiority of the characters partially due to the fact that most of them are children having to come to terms with their own mortality and the death of their way of life makes for something I hope to see fleshed out later. Feeling deliberate in pace but weak in characterization so far it is workmanlike although the emphasis on the psychological element gives hope for a deeper story in later episodes. Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody (three episodes viewed on Crunchyroll): Probably one of the weakest adaptations studio Silver Link has done since No-Rin. Director Oonuma, Shin's (Director of C3 and Anne Happy) talents are wasted on this series while occasional action cuts are clean. With glaring animation errors CGI that has a color pallet that looks like it belongs in Mario N64. Along with Character Design from Takimoto, Shouko ( Character Design for Chaos Dragon). That makes little details like the flow of clothing or Liza's scales look like they are hovering above her shoulders and forearms. Series Composition by Shimoyama, Kento (Series Composition for Bleach and Binbougami ga!)is alternatively too fast and too slow spending far too much time establishing Satou's previous life before being transported to the game reality while rushing through chapters worth of source material in minutes not to mention for the first two episodes Crunchyroll did not translate the skill acquired screens making parts of the story unable to be comprehended. Rie Takahashi as Zena Marientail is wasted on the series giving an excellent performance filled with innocence and nervous charm. Making the fact that Zena us little more than an NPC ham-handedly spouting world building exposition makes it that much more disheartening. while Ichirou "Satou" Suzuki (Voiced by Horie, Shun voiced Jigoku no Gouka in Mayoiga) is little more than a POV character at this point and the most interesting thing about the series is the world. Of course, these where all problems with the source material but are only more glaring in an Anime adaptation given the visual nature of the medium. Ito Junji: Collection (four episodes viewed on Crunchyroll): While some have complained about this being a bad adaptation of Ito's oeuvre Director and Character Designer Tagashira, Shinobu (Director on Diabolik Lovers and Character Design for Amatsuki). Is able to capture the existential dread and unnerving sense of mental and emotional decline in Ito's characters with his langued character design. While Sound Director Hozumi Gouda (Sound Director on Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and Le Chevalier D'Eon) does his best to capture the wretching, unstable characters making the world feel even more cramped and claustrophobic. Being an omnibus series no one character is the focus of every episode yet Souichi Tsujii (Voiced by Mitsuya, Yuuji voiced Katsumi Itaneda in C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control and Katsudonman in Sore Ike! Anpanman) stands out as particularly apt introductory character equal parts cruel and darkly comic clown. A workmanlike adaptation that captures the mood and feeling of Ito's work even if at times it has the look of most Studio Deen series which may put some off but helps build up the darkly twisted ethos of the universe with its sickly color pallet. Record of Grancrest War (four episodes viewed on Crunchyroll): An inspiredly hammy fantasy yarn with Series Composition from Mizuno, Ryou (Original Creator of Record of Grancrest War)is brought to being more than simply fun swashbuckling popcorn fare by Director Omata, Shinichi (Episode Director (ep 9) of Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle). Showing that Shinichi can direct action as well as romantic comedy and historical drama and not have it feel awkward. From changing the aspect ratio in a fight scene to give it the feel of a movie to large armies and flurries of arrows. This establishes if nothing else Omata's versatility as a director. Theo Cornaro (Voiced by Kentarou Kumagai voiced Tsubasa Kaneko in Tuski ga Kirei)would be an easy write off as a tiresome retread of Parn from Lodoss War. Theo is not as headstrong and feels more paladin-like. While Siluca Meletes (Voiced by Akari Kito voiced Hiromi Sugita in Erased and Calen in Time Bokan 24)is most definitely not a retread of Deedlit being obstinate and sometimes overly emotional. A great throwback to a series filled with crisp fighting animation and a world that is fully formed but not daunting to the uninitiated. Hakumei to Mikochi (three episodes viewed on Hidive): This is a series that captures attention more for its Background Art by Kusanagi (Background art on Non-Non-Biyori: Vacation) and a world filled with Anthropomorphic Weasal carpenters and Japanese Macqaque soy sauce vendors. Then any real plot progression very much quiet slice of life series comparable to Flying Witch with its touch of magical realism such as Sen (Voiced by Chika Anzai voiced Mutsumi Kawahara in Gi(a)relish Number and Merry in Hai to Gensou no Grimgar)the tiny Necromancer. While Director Andou, Masaomi (Director of Kuzu no Honkai) and his love for cut out panels are on full display. Overall simply a relaxing series filled with interesting bits of local color like how tiny people make coffee or hull rice. Laid-Back Camp (four episodes viewed on Crunchyroll): About the adventures of a group of girls who go on camping excursions the tone of the series very much comparable to previous Series Composition by Tanaka, Jin (Series Composition on Anne Happy). With the fast-paced character playing off the slow-paced character while also having small moments of cute things happening in between character development and slapstick. Rin Shima (Voiced by Nao Touyama voiced Rin Suzunoki in Bakuon !! And Yuugiri in Zettai Karen Children: The Unlimited - Hyoubu Kyousuke)very much being slow paced and a tad bit stoical but slowly opening up. Like Hakumei to Mikochi, it's as much about the ethos of the world as the characters, in particular, the majesty of Mt. Fuji is heavily emphasized. Koi wa Ameagari no You ni (three episodes viewed on Amazon Prime Video): This was a series I originally was not going to watch due to the fact that I didn't feel like watching another Seinen Romance Anime. This really surprised me partially because it is done at Wit Studio mostly known for having done two seasons of Attack On Titan. Chronicling the story of 17 years old Akira Tachibana who develops romantic feelings for her 45-year-old manager Masami Kondou (voiced by Hirata, Hiroaki voiced Benny in Black Lagoon and Gojou Sha in Saiyuuki). A kind-hearted and gentle man whose mannerisms and personality get him thought of as a dorky wuss. It could have been really easy for this series to turn into wish-fulfillment fantasy for older men but the series treats the whole romantic drama gently and with a self-aware realism to the obvious problems with a relationship with a twenty-eight year age gap, a perceived power imbalance. Along with Kondou being a divorcee and a single Father. Series Composition by Mieno, Hitomi (Series Composition for Frame Arm Girls and Flying Witch)handles all of this with aplomb partially due to the already strong source material and also with a good grasp for character psychology. making for a subtle series with some very beautiful shot composition and an art style comparable to 90s Shojo Manga with large expressionistic backgrounds. Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san (four episodes viewed on Crunchyroll): Equal parts sweet and capturing the passing away of the time of youth. While also subtly showing the blossoming of a young romance. Series Composition by Yokote, Michiko (Series Composition on Genshiken)is able to thread the feelings of fleeting youth and the springtime of youth without having too much tonal whiplash. While Takagi-san (voiced by Takahashi, Rie voiced Ernesti Echevarria in Knights & Magic)has an equal parts flirty girl next door and teasing almost friend with Nishikata (voiced by Yuki Kaji voiced Amata Sora in Aquarion Evol). Nishikata is dense, to say the least. While the dynamic is mostly good-natured ribbing for the most part. Pop Team Epic (Four episodes viewed on Hidive) Probably the single hardest series to write about due to it being both a relatively new staff ranging from Aoki, Jun (Director on Kotatsu Neko (ONA) and Television) who works as director but also storyboards and a number of other jobs as well as other newer creators working on it as well. Combined with a rotating cast of male and female Seiyuu. Along with stop-motion puppetry and parodies of Earth Wind And Fire songs nonsense comedy and a fake Idol Anime. Among other things making this my Anime Of The Season. If only for the amount of effort that went into something that could have been disposable nonsense.