Hey, I’m still here! I wasn’t able to do anything for the anime season that just ended due to working overseas for two months but I did actually catch up on some stuff when I got back. Since there were a few shows that never got First Impressions from this season due to the other reviewers not having time to do them, I thought I’d make this post to evaluate them now that I’ve finished them up.
While these are obviously not First Impressions by any stretch, I’m still going to put it in that category…mainly so that the post can actually be categorized and found again later. And speaking of First Impressions – I’ll be on board when the new season starts, however I have to give a heads up that I’ll probably be just a little late with some of my shows because I’m getting a kitten who is going to demand most of my free time.
Be warned that some of these reviews may contain spoilers.
Since I didn’t have much time, I’m not going to include the shows I ended up dropping after a few episodes due to being terrible (Monster Musume) or incredibly slow and dull to me personally (Snow White with the Red Hair, Gangtsa) …although that’s only because I didn’t watch them all the way through, because some of the stuff I am including was actually a lot worse than that. A whole lot. So I’m going to start with the better shows and make my way down the pile to the ones I deeply regret bothering with.
Sore ga Seiyuu!
I almost didn’t watch this, but I’m really glad I did because this show (also known as Seiyuu’s Life) was so much fun. I really, really enjoyed Shirobako and so was hoping to see more ‘behind the scenes’ kind of shows like that. As the title would tell you, Sore ga Seiyuu is focused only on the voice-acting part of the ‘behind the scenes’ – but that doesn’t mean it lacks variety. It does a really good job of demonstrating the sheer depth of the voice acting industry in Japanese entertainment – which, after all, isn’t limited to just anime, as we see our trio of novice seiyuu being tasked with everything from audio books to japanese dubs of foreign movies.
It also doesn’t sugar-coat – these three face a lot of setbacks, a lot of rejection, a lot of crushing disappointment and a lot of humbling in such a competitive industry. (They do, however, manage to get a gig as web-radio stars).
If Shirobako had one flaw, it would be that for an anime intended to be as realistic as it was, a lot of the characters seemed like anime characters themselves. Sore ga Seiyuu, on the other hand, cranks that dial up to 11 – something evident from the cutesy artwork alone. However, there’s a real charm to these over-the-top characters, and even when they’re over-reacting anime-style to things, their emotions are still incredibly believable and it’s hard to not feel the ups and downs with them.
The most noteworthy thing about the show though is that it actually stars several existing seiyuu who play themselves in short cameos. One of the best scenes in the whole show is when Hiroshi Kamiya himself starts showing the protagonist pictures of his cat on his phone until he is pulled away by his manager. If that wasn’t enough, the ending theme of the show features a catchy tune and a short rap about the events of the episode before segueing into the chorus of a random existing anime theme song. I did not expect one of these to be the theme to the first season of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, let alone Revolutionary Girl Utena, so I could applaud the show on that alone. So many recent anime that bombard you with references to other anime have been done so badly that it really is refreshing when you see one done right.
Out of 5,
Gakkougurashi!, or School Live!, seems to be one of (if not the) most popular anime from the past season, and with its blend of moe girls and survival, it’s not hard to see why. After all, what better way to inject some much-needed vigour into the classic Girls At School Talk About Stuff anime than by filling it with zombies? Woops, was that a spoiler? The thing about Gakkougurashi! is that the true nature of the plot is the first episode’s major twist, which is both good and bad. Good because I did not see it coming, being unfamiliar with the manga it’s based on, but bad because it requires you to sit through one of the dullest first episodes in the history of animekind to get to that point. It really does go out of its way to convince you that this is yet another calm and relaxing ‘girls doing absolutely nothing whatsoever’ show until all these boring shenanigans are revealed to be delusions that the pink-haired Yuki has convinced herself to be real – the reality is that the girls actually seem to be the only known survivors of some kind of zombie outbreak where barricading themselves in the school is their only hope. True, it’s a little gimmicky – and even after finding out the terrifying situation the girls are in, we still get regularly treated to cutesy dumb shenanigans that occasionally seem bizarrely out of place (they even manage to shoehorn a pool episode in, go figure). The unintentionally hilarious mood whiplash between the happy-go-lucky theme song and some of the subject matter is also worth mentioning.
However, first episode aside I never really felt bored watching it and it really did keep me engaged, despite being disinterested in zombie fiction. It even managed to get me emotionally invested in the characters, and a particular twist at the half way point left me in awe. Since the manga is ongoing and the show was so popular, it’s possible that there will eventually be more, and I’m eager to see it.
Out of 5,
Skins reviewed the first episode of Charlotte, but the thing is, nothing in the first episode really gives away the sheer doozy the show ends up becoming. It starts off like a generic ‘kids with magic powers’ show, and does all it can to convince you there will never be anything more to it than the basic plot of ‘recruit special ability kids to the special ability kids school’, although it does become quickly apparent that a horrible fate awaits these kids-with-powers if the main kids-with-powers don’t find them first. Then about half way through it throws you for a loop. And another loop. And another, and so on.
Sitting back and looking at the show as a whole once it’s all over reveals that – as entertaining as the ride may have been – this is honestly one of the worst paced shows I have ever seen. Characters that seem like they’ll be important in the beginning are quickly abandoned and the amount of screen-time some things are given is odd. (such as That One Episode In the Middle). It seems so gleeful in it’s ‘gotcha, bet you didn’t think THAT would happen!’ moments that it has little regard to actually plotting them properly.
It’s also a Jun Maeda show, which means it has moments of extreme slapstick comedy contrasted with moments of extreme sadness, and that mix does not work all the time. Jun Maeda is good at wringing emotion out of you and his method of using music to enhance a mood is commendable, but the mood whiplash can be ridiculous at times. As for the last episode…I honestly have no idea what to even think of it.
I don’t regret watching Charlotte – it was pretty interesting and some of the characters were fun, and for what it’s worth it did keep me glued to my seat. But I definitely couldn’t call it well written.
Out of 5,
Here’s another show I never expected to actually bother with, due to ‘he is stuck in a game which is now real life’ being one of my pet-hates when it comes to anime plots. To its credit, Overlord did at least attempt something different. The main character was a player of the MMO Yggdrasil, where had managed to become one of the most overpowered, renowned players in its database. Despite all this, the game eventually has to shut down, but due to his attachment to his guild and NPCs he decides to wait out the countdown before the servers are turned off for good. The thing is, once this happens, he realizes that he’s still in the game – only it’s not Yggdrasil anymore, it’s Fantasy Anime World For Real and all of his loyal NPC subjects are also now real. After trying to find out as much as he can about this new world, he decides that he should become its overlord, because he is literally a giant skeleton and what else are you gonna do.
I like this different angle Overlord has with the main character Lord Momonga looking like a typical RPG end-boss instead of a generic teenager, but I do feel like the show could have been so much more interesting. It has a huge problem with pacing – it moves far too slowly and I feel like not a whole lot was actually resolved in the series itself (although it’s clearly getting a sequel). It introduces far too many characters off the bat and doesn’t devote nearly enough time to any of them (like the Obvious Best Characters – tomboy Aura and girly Mare the twins) Not even Momonga – while we occasionally get to see his inner thoughts, especially in the first episode, we don’t really get to know that much about him. Some of the moments that contrasted his ‘random japanese gamer dude embarrassed about some of the character creation choices he made in-game’ inner thoughts to his Actual Skeleton appearance were actually pretty funny, but there are less and less of these as it goes on and I constantly found myself wondering what any of the characters were actually thinking and why. Also, we get zero backstory – in this season at least – as to who the hell Momonga even is, the show simply shows us that he’s strong and awesome and can do anything and we just have to go along with it. It’s pretty hard for there to be any suspense in a fight where Momonga’s victory is guaranteed…so the extended battles that consist mostly of yelling ridiculous-sounding RPG attacks get tedious very fast.
It’s not a show I regret watching either, but I don’t really think I need to see more of it.
Out of 5,
Ranpo Kitan -Game of Laplance-
Ranpo Kitan is apparently meant to be a tribute to famous japanese mystery author Edogawa Ranpo, and was released to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his death. It features a lot of nods to his work and includes characters with the same names – most notably ‘Man of 20 Faces’. In Ranpo Kitan, this is something like a vigilante identity donned by multiple people who commit ridiculously convoluted murders, and for some reason these can only be solved (or bothered with at all) by the teenage detective Akechi. He is assisted by the main character Kobayashi – framed for murder in the first episode and left with an insatiable appetite for something that exciting to happen to him again and Kobayashi’s school friend Hashiba who clearly has gay feelings for him.
Kobayashi was the reason I was initially intrigued by this show – because I am predictable and am capable of sitting through a lot of garbage if cute feminine boys are in it – and his unexpected personality (when Akechi warns him that being his assistant may break him, Kobayashi only replies ‘I want to break!’) initially promised something really quirky and unique. However, Ranpo Kitan is probably one of the most disappointing shows I have ever watched and it got steadily worse and worse before culminating in an ending with the most ridiculous and insultingly bad attempt at trying to be intelligent with ‘chaos theory’ that I have ever seen. Worst of all – this is not remotely a mystery show, or a detective show. It’s not the slightest bit interested in giving us a compelling mystery and letting the viewer try to figure it out – instead we’re just shown a ridiculously gruesome crime scene and Akechi and Kobayashi magically know the culprit – before the character has even been introduced to the audience. There’s nothing remotely compelling about that.
For a show that regularly courts with a fujoshi audience by putting in all the implied unresolved feelings Hashiba has for Kobayashi (which, for the record, go nowhere) and regularly has Kobayashi cross-dress for the hell of it, it’s shockingly sexist. Nearly all the female characters are either killed horribly or entirely useless – there’s one introduced with the sole purpose of being killed to give a male character pain and character development(also known as my Most Hated Fiction Trope) but the worst is the appalling character of Black Lizard. A captured phantom thief who contributes nothing to the show, she looks like a Bayonetta wannabee and regularly pisses herself in ecstasy as a recurring gag….which makes the target audience of the show all the more confusing. Honestly, who the hell was this aimed at? Where does the venn diagram for ‘edogawa ranpo’ ‘fujoshi fanservice’ ‘super girly cute boys’ ‘gruesome gorey nonsense’ ‘dominatrix piss fetish’ even overlap? And why did I watch all eleven episodes?
The show does look pretty nice – it has some great visual effects and motifs (surprising for studio Lerche, although I felt like they were trying too hard to be SHAFT at times) and some of the music was incredible. That’s all I can really praise it for, though. Needless to say, I’m pretty sure a) that this is not even remotely what Edogawa Ranpo would have wanted, and b)the noitaminA label is officially meaningless and more indicative of prettily animated garbage than any real quality…than ever before.
Out of 5,
Rokka no Yuusha
I actually have a hard time deciding whether this or Ranpo Kitan was worse. Both promised me so much more and somehow managed to get me to watch the whole thing and leave me incredibly pissed off.
Rokka no Yuusha actually has, in theory, a pretty cool plot. Six ‘braves’ are selected to defeat the demon king – the proof being the emblem that appears somewhere on their bodies. A typical RPG bland quest setup, but here’s the catch: once all the Braves gather, they realize that there are seven of them, which means one of them is a fake. But which?
The character designs and outfits are incredibly stupid and clash ridiculously with each other (check out mrs ‘i’m wearing a black censor bar over my boobs and all my vitals are exposed despite basically being an assassin’ up there, and she isn’t even the goofiest), as well as with the rest of the show. Which is a shame, because the setting and overall aesthetics of the scenery and architecture is very aztec-inspired and rather unique – it’s a far cry from the generic european fairy-tale influenced RPG style most other anime like this would have. However, what I expected was a fun adventure where – whilst en route to slay a demon king, a group of very different and engaging characters would have to use all their wits to find out who the Seventh is and keep the audience guessing.
What I got was the real winner of the Worst Pacing Award – Charlotte at least managed to be entertaining and not 12 episodes of basically nothing. The entirety of Rokka is seven people arguing and fighting. That’s it. That’s the ENTIRE SHOW. The quest never starts, no one even really leaves the location they originally gathered in, and the plot moves at a snails pace. Perhaps worst of all is the fact that none of these characters are even very interesting, which means there’s pretty much zero emotional consequence as to who the Seventh is. The only character I felt even the slightest affection for was Hans Humpty the cat-man, and even he got pretty annoying after a while.
Actually, the characters being bland and boring wasn‘t the worst part, it was the ridiculous and infuriating way it ended, the ‘haha, gotcha!’ of it and the fact that it expects me to want to sit through another entire season of what is most likely the exact same thing. No. I am done.
Out of 5,
Makura Danshi (AKA ‘Pillow Boys‘) is basically an anime version of those sound dramas where you get to pretend a hot anime dude is talking to you. It’s only about 3 or 4 minutes long, and every episode features a different boy. The point of it is to make you, the viewer, feel like hot boys are looking right at you and talking to you in unintentionally hilarious one-sided conversations.
Also this show is goddamn horrifying.
It’s not just the art (but seriously, look at that guy above. He’s so creepy and he isn’t even close to the creepiest guy in the show), there’s just something chilling about some of the episodes and its about as far-removed from its intended purpose of making ladies swoon as physically possible. I don’t know who the artist for this show is, but they can not seem to draw an appealing face at all. The boys all look unsettling in some way, and the way the camera zooms in on them is ridiculously off-putting. It’s almost mesmerizing in how unattractive it is…not to mention how cheap it is, the episode with the ‘music boy’ is barely animated at all and is mostly pans and zooms. For the record, the title ‘pillow boys’ is false advertising because half of them are not even sleeping beside you or even sleeping at all, but whatever. The boys are varied – there’s a business man in the second episode who is unbelievably uncomfortable, there’s an astronomy-loving boy, there’s a librarian, there’s a goddamn five-year-old boy what the fuck, and we’re supposed to find them all super dreamy. If it wasnt a short I wouldn’t have bothered watching it, but this show was a riot to watch with friends and make fun of.
Then I got to the episode with the twins and decided that this show was actually a horror anime, because that was one of the absolute creepiest episodes of anything I have ever sat through. When it faded to black at the end, I can only assume it was because those twins killed me.
Honestly I don’t even know what to rate this, it’s objectively the worst show on the entire list, but it was also the most fun to laugh at.