Taste Test: Winter 2017

This season is a bitter one. So much so that it took me this long before I even touched any new shows. I’m gonna tell you now this is going to hurt. I’m already around four to five episodes behind my peers, but I can only handle so much stupid at a time. And this season looooves some dumb set ups and obnoxious characters, let me tell ya. I did what I could, found what I could, God save us all.
(For the record, I’m only around two to three episodes into each new series unless otherwise stated, so these are EARLY impressions)

dragonmaidMiss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

Story: Bored and sorta lonely and nerdy salarywoman meets and hires a dragon to be her maid while drunk. Shenanigans ensue.

Flavor: Not horrid, but there’s a hint of a bad after taste…
Like most reviewers, the last part of episode one had me on edge thanks to the forced strip scene. These scenes aren’t funny. At best they’re just uncomfortable. At worst they’re a solid reason to drop shows.
The animation and music are ok, though nothing grand. The jokes are mediocre as well, but that’s actually a near praise considering this season’s original content lineup… It’s too bad really. The set up could actually have a ton of really hilarious moments, but the sexual over and undertones are really annoying to me so I doubt this show will end up as anything more than “meh.”

march-comes-inMarch comes in like a lion

Story: Rei Kiriyama is a 17 year old pro shoji player (Japanese chess) who makes more at what he does than most adults. Even so, he feels incomplete…

Flavor: Mild, but pleasant
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this title, but artsy shots and sharp art wasn’t it. And, yes, technically this title belongs down below in my “Returning Titles” section as this season is continuing from where last season’s airing stopped. However, I just recently picked this one up after all the crunch I was under last year. I kinda wish I had tried it sooner. This is one of the better titles I’ve tried thus far, with powerful art and charming characters, even if the pace is extremely slow at first.
This isn’t anything even vaguely action based, so if slower shows or character driven content isn’t your thing, this probably won’t be either. But I was happy to see the shoji sport be less of a focus than the characters (thus far) and so I’ll be sticking with this one for now.

accaACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept.

Story: There’s this office and people investigate workers from other offices and one guy smokes a lot and might not have a soul. Oh and his sister owns an apartment complex??

Flavor: Confused
This is oddly interesting, yet it’s hard for me to say why. The world and characters are actually really well built, but you get thrown in so fast that it’s hard to keep up. If you enjoy detective-like shows, this might be up your alley. I’m not usually into that myself, so I’m having a rough time with this title. I’m mildly curious about how things will turn out for the cast, but I’m still not really invested. And so long as our lead has the emotional elasticity of concrete, that won’t be changing any day soon.

dropoutGabriel DropOut

Story: Grade A angel Gabriel goes down to earth for her last study before graduation. She gets addicted to gaming and becomes a jerk. So-called “comedy” follows.

Flavor: Cheap and empty
So many panty shots… Honestly this is like watching Umaru without the brother and more TV14 content. Not a fan. It’s not outright insulting my senses, but it’s not doing itself any favors with the pointless fanservice camera angles and obnoxious characters. I do kinda like the main “villain” though. She’s supposed to be hell’s queen when she graduates, but her kind of evil is actually more like a prank from a three year old. Which is actually pretty funny here and there. But they immediately muddied that comedy with another lead that’s just an annoying stereotype so this is likely another “meh” show at best.

seirenSeiren 

Story: Boy is worried about future. Has some strange relationships with girls which may or may not be seen as entirely healthy, but whatever this is anime so plot is over-rated.

Flavor: Bland at first with a sour kick after taste
I have a bad feeling this title is going to end up in my Warning Zone. And here’s the thing. I’m actually all for shows being a bit more blunt and up front about the realities of attraction and sexual awakening and whatnot. Really. And this show did itself some favors by having our lead try to focus more on his own goals rather than have every inch of his life dictated by a girl. That said, shows like this really need to be marked. Not everyone is comfortable with this level of bluntness concerning sex. Also, calling this a “romantic comedy” might be a biiit of a stretch Crunchyroll… Just because it’s really awkward doesn’t mean it’s funny.

youjo-senki-saga-of-tanya-the-evilSaga of Tanya the Evil

Story: Tanya is still in military training. But she might be too much for the frontlines to handle…

Flavor: A bit bitter, but flavorful
This one actually kept my interest throughout the first episode. Something most of these shows couldn’t really do well so far. So points to this one. I honestly didn’t see some of those twists coming. I should have, considering the title, but still.
That said, I’m not sure how this show will keep my interest in the long term if it keeps up the high level of military jabber and dark twists. I need at least one somewhat decent character to root for and a better grasp of who’s fighting who would help too. A map and rushed walk through don’t tell me any “whys” behind the fighting or political set up. Also, depending on the violence of this one, this title could also land a WZ…

interviewsInterviews with Monster Girls

Story: There are four kinds of monsters that are born randomly for no freakin’ reason at all. One creepy teacher wants to interview them all for a research paper. Three are students. One is a fellow teacher. All are female. Lord above why am I watching this….

Flavor: Sweet and a bit sickly
I actually didn’t find episode one all that bad considering the set up. Extremely over-convenient plotline? Sure. But not creepy. At first. Episode two reminded me this world is evil and we all deserve the apocalypse when the hated “students all fall for male teacher” plotline arrived. I was hoping it would be dropped by the third episode but nope. It continues. Even the female teacher that finds out about the attraction is legit with it. Which makes this all the more uncomfortable for me to watch.
While nothing explicit has happened yet, this series isn’t looking great. Not that the bar was high anyway…

granGranblue Fantasy – the animation

Story: Girl with special powers falls from airship and gets rescued by local hardworking guy. They run from bad guys and summon dragon things when they nearly die because RPG stories are bomb and who needs plot twists?

Flavor: Dollar store candy
It’s not bad. In fact, it’s good if you’re in the mood for it. That’s what this show is. It’s so traditional RPG fare that it burns. If you hate RPGs, you’ll probably hate this title. Just saying. About the only “good” things going for this title are 1) after falling to the ground our lead female did NOT wake up with amnesia. That’s rare for anime. 2) Her knight in shinning armor is originally a female and they seem to be friends. We sadly don’t get to see their relationship forming as it’s already established before episode one takes place, but usually we don’t get positive female relationships outside of male lead influence, sooo points for that.
Outside of these things, nothing unique to see here. Nothing at all. But if you want some old school RPG stuff without all that hacking and slashing for hours to up your lvl, this is ok. So far. Definitely another “meh” though…

nyanko-daysNyanko Days

Story: Girl has no friends, just cats. Who are like chibis with ears. This gets her a friend somehow…

Flavor: Pure sugar
I’m actually completely caught up on this “series” because each episode is only two minutes long. And that’s including the ending theme. Considering this is such a short series, there’s little to nothing going on plotwise (not that any of the shows this round have much of a plot, but still). This show is cute for cute’s sake and nothing else. So long as you’re chill with that, this show isn’t bad. I originally picked it up because I really want to beef up my All Ages section. So far this show qualifies. I mean, you could say the whole loli-cat chibi thing is creepy fanservice (and it kinda is), but so far it’s remained very clean. We’ll see if it stays that way… In any case, this should be a pretty easy title to follow.

Returning titles:

natsumeNatsume Yujin-cho

Story: Natsume has been able to see youkai for years, a gift left to him from his long dead grandmother. Sometimes the youkai are good… sometimes they are not…

Flavor: Comforting and hearty soup
I will admit that I’m really behind on this. I did a review for this anime back when the first three seasons were released, but I didn’t get the memo when season four launched and thus I’ve had to backtrack to it before biting into the current season (five). I’m still playing catch up. That said, so far everything has been keeping the same tone as the first three seasons and seeing as I enjoyed those quite a bit, it’s looking good. If you want a solid and heartfelt series concerning youkai and their relationship with humans, this is an amazing show.

82320ClassicaLoid

Story: Old dead composers are reborn into new bodies and have special powers to create music that may or may not work like drug clouds on everyone in ear-shot. They also annoy a young landlady trying to rent out rooms who has outstanding bad luck.

Flavor: Chocolate Necco Wafers
It’s not a great flavor, but it’s not repulsive either. Yeah, just like my feelings on pretty much every show this season. Thing is, I’m still in season one of this, which aired last season. But I was so unimpressed last time that I had dropped it. I’m picking it back up because so many reviewers liked it and I’m trying to understand why… Still don’t get it… If you like bright colors and loud and annoying leads? I mean, I don’t mind our landlady lead, actually. But everyone else… not so much. I might drop this again…

 

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time Review

the_girl_who_leapt_through_time_posterStory:
Makoto Konno loves nothing more than playing some baseball with her two guy friends and generally lazing about. One day she has a near death experience with a train and discovers she can jump from one time period to another. At first she uses her new power to do silly things here and there for fun, such as 10 hours of karaoke and going back and forth to days when her family made her favorite meal for dinner. But after awhile she begins to notice that her actions have painful consequences for those around her…

Violence:
While few people get into fist fights or anything, there are quite a few violent scenes. Mainly when our MC falls and rolls down a steep road, breaking her arm and cutting herself badly. It’s disturbing to see and hear, so be warned.

Language:
Usually kept to a few d-mns. Other than that, I didn’t really hear anything too objectionable in this one (I’ve only viewed the subtitled version).

Nudity:
Nothing much in this one. We have one or two bath scenes, but it’s vary covered and we see nothing of note.

Theology/mythology:
If the idea of what appears to be magic, or those who are considered witches, bugs you, go ahead and skip this (though later it is revealed that technology might be more of a cause than actual magic). We also have a shrine and prayer scene, but as usual no doctrine is discussed.

Personal impression:
I rarely get a chance to review anime films, but I was able to watch this one and let me tell you, it was oddly… good. It’s definitely a slow starter, so be warned on that. The art is also a bit sketchy here and there until you get used to it. The background music is totally forgettable, but overall the script makes up for it. The characters are all believable and the dialog is steady (no sudden personality changes for this one’s cast). I did feel as if the plot twist at the end was a bit… forced, but even so this film closes down leaving a strong message about time behind.
So long as a more melancholy ending is your cup of tea, I think you’ll really enjoy this show. Though you’ll have to get it through Netflix or FUNimation seeing as it’s not streaming at the moment.

Personal rating: young adult

Episodes: Movie
Languages: sub and dub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Fantasy, slice of life, drama
Company: Kadokawa/FUNimation (previously Bandai)
Production: Madhouse
Official streaming: na

Chaika – The Coffin Princess – Review

23298af0a3c30f54877fcabaaeaf06481396999865_fullStory:
Toru used to be a saboteur during the war. Now he can hardly hold a job. Until he runs into Chaika, a strange girl carrying a coffin on her back and traveling the kingdom looking for her father’s remains.

Violence:
This is a high one. Think FMA: Brotherhood and Trinity Blood. There’s even an arc where people are tortured and their pain and fear powers a device. It’s not quite WZ level, but it gets close… If violence freaks you out, steer clear of this one.

Language:
Some b-words here and there, but not too frequently. Expect quite a few more sh-ts and d-mns though, especially in fight sequences.

Nudity:
Oddly low considering the set up. But aside from a few costumes that are tight and such, not too bad. The creepy sister-who-isn’t-a-sister-but-still-loves-her-brother arc remains ever creepy, but it’s used purely for comedy and the series never takes it seriously.

Theology/mythology:
Magic is used in this world. By the end it is implied that magic has more to do with creatures that can produce it biologically or futuristic technology, but that aspect is so rushed it hardly matters. Thus if magic is something you hate in shows, this one ain’t for you.

Personal impression:
This was strangely good. And as I’m writing this I’m trying to figure out why I liked this title. The set up itself is… well, ok it’s odd and maybe that’s why I got hooked. But that wasn’t all. We also have two side leads that are super good at what they do, which is something you don’t see much in anime these days. Usually you get the wet-behind-the-ears heroes only. While Chaika herself isn’t the best mage out there, she’s pretty good. And her saboteur hires are even better fighters. So we don’t really have to muddle through a bunch of episodes where the cast have to “learn” how to fight and such. So that was nice. But that wasn’t all. You also had a story that wasn’t afraid to let it’s cast get hit around, injured and put in some pretty extreme danger. I guess I should have seen that coming, considering studio Bones was involved, but still.
Overall, I think it was a bunch of small factors like the above that made this show enjoyable for me. The story itself is a hint odd, but not to any extreme. The characters are actually interesting, though still a bit cliche and the action… ok, the action was actually really good. Well choreographed stuff. So while the art and music were pretty standard, this show was actually good. It never dived into pure fanservice trash, like I feared. It never made me so frustrated with our moe lead that I wanted to gorge out my own eyes, like I feared. It even completed its story instead of having an open ending, like pretty much every other show out there.
Was this a groundbreaking Bones title? No. But was this a good, solid Bones title? Yes. If you’ve been craving a decent action show, this will give you what you want. It’ll even give you a proper ending. Now that’s something we could use more of these days.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 22 (includes seasons 1 & 2)
Languages: Sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Action, adventure, fantasy
Production: Bones
Company: Kadokawa Pictures/Sentai Filmworks
Official streaming: Crunchyroll