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…

 

Taste test for Fall 2016

The new streaming season has fully set in! And as such I’ve tried a grand total of ten brand new shows! Not all will make it through the first pass, however…

moroseThe Morose Mononokean 
Story:
Hanae Ashiya makes a rather large error one day when he assists a youkai on the side of the road. An act of kindness it may have been, but it throws him into the world of exorcism.
Flavor:
Bland. This show doesn’t seem to offer anything anime fans haven’t already seen in shows like xxxHolic or Book of Friends. In fact, those shows might have done it better, although it might be too hasty to make such a call this soon. Regardless, the characters in this show aren’t offensive or annoying as of yet, but they don’t have much appeal either. I foresee this one being a very tame and tasteless ride if the first two episodes are anything to go on.
New episodes every Sunday morning

orange2b1Orange
Story:
High schooler Naho receives a letter from herself in the future instructing her to not make more than a few mistakes she will regret later…
Flavor:
Sweet but with an unpleasant aftertaste. I used to be a super shy kid. I used to never talk to anyone. It took years to overcome my mental hangups and sometimes I still struggle with them. The heroine of this anime is what I used to be times ten. She’s not just shy, she’s near crippling with it. Since I used to be this way, it makes it very frustrating to watch as I feel the anxiety levels I used to have returning to me just watching Naho make mistake after mistake. Honestly, she’s just too much like how I used to be and it makes watching this anime really confusing and uncomfortable for me. So while the story and characters aren’t all that bad yet or anything, this might be dropped if it continues to make my skin crawl this badly. It’s nothing against the creators. It’s just a clash with me personally.
New episodes every Sunday morning

sweetnessSweetness & Lightening
Story:
Kohei is a single father of a very energetic little girl who loves food. Unfortunately his own cooking skills aren’t the best. Enter one of his own students, Kotori, who offers to learn how to cook alongside him and his daughter.
Flavor:
Sweet. This show is almost too sugary, but due to the serious background of Kohei’s wife having recently passed away, the sweetness is not only balanced, but very welcome. The show, so far, hasn’t gotten too dark or serious and it fits considering how a preschooler is one of the leads. As someone who has worked with that age group on and off for years, I find this show pretty accurate and actually a pleasant experience overall. So long as no unnecessary drama pops up, this could be a good one.
New episodes every Monday morning

tabooTaboo Tattoo
Story:
When Seigi saves a seemingly homeless man from some street thugs, he gets a strange “tattoo” as a reward. Little does he realize that what is etched onto his hand unlocks incredible, and very dangerous, power.
Flavor:
Sour. And I don’t mean the good sour candy I can eat in one sitting, I mean that off brand stuff from the dollar store that looks sketchy as hell. This show has a very high violence level and more than a few indecent fanservice scenes in only the first two episodes. I have a bad feeling that, although the plot is getting some political intrigue that could shake things up nicely, this show might be either a drop or WZ-ed for the blood and sexual situations. A shame as, while the set up is dull enough, the world showed some promise.
New episodes every Monday morning

amanchuAmanchu!
Story:
Futaba Oki has just moved to a small seaside town and her timid nature makes it hard for her to make friends. Luckily she’s sitting right next to one of the town’s most outgoing girls, who also just so happens to be a scuba nerd.
Flavor:
Home cooked. This show, so far, doesn’t put anything new or strange on the table, but what’s there is cooked well. It’s nothing to rave about, the characters are pretty standard and the plot is mostly shy girl gains a friend, so there’s little going on. That said, it fulfills its goal as a show well and doesn’t seem to be trying to be what it isn’t. This is a slice-of-life that’s perfectly content remaining so.
New episodes every Friday morning

alderaminAlderamin on the Sky
Story:
Iwata Soroku is a lazy genius who hates war. Unfortunately for him, when a princess sneaks onto his ship everything gets far more complicated.
Flavor:
Spiced. This show was actually far better than I expected. At least, thus far. The world is fully built and the politics sound. The personalities are pretty believable as well. The real question will be if character progression will be constant or if it will dissolve into the usual button-masher like storylines common in these kinds of shows (see Arslan for what I mean).
New episodes every Friday morning

QualideaQualidea Code
Story:
When the world is attacked by Unknowns, children are kept in a cold sleep for a time in the future when things become stable. Years later they are awoken to find they now have powers to assist them in keeping their fragile world safe.
Flavor:
Decent, but not the freshest ingredients. While the music is pretty good in this show, as well as the animation, the characters themselves are pretty common stereotypes. In this show’s defense, at least the dialog flows well despite having such a routine cast. Even so, the entire idea is so overdone that this show is going to have a hard time making a name for itself. Especially when it resorts to getting all the girls in bikinis as soon as the second episode. That’s not a good sign for a show.
New episodes every Saturday morning

b-projectB-Project
Story:
Sumisora Tsubasa recently landed a job as a new A&R for a music studio. Her job may prove to be quite the effort as she is managing three different boy bands back-to-back.
Flavor:
Bland. This is a pretty stereotypical shoujo title. So far there’s little unique about this, although the setup makes that rather obvious, honestly. Especially as the heroine knows next to nothing about music. These kind of setups, where the heroine is a well-meaning, but clueless person, are obnoxious because they keep the “heroine” from being, well, a hero character. They’re never “good” at much of anything besides being positive. I find that demeaning. Girls can be super good at things. We can be better at them than guys. Please, anime creators, give me a heroine who is an expert in her field. PLEASE!
Well, yes, anyway, if I get too busy this will end up as a drop, but seeing as it’s just bland and not super offensive, it’ll stick around. For now.
New episodes every Saturday morning

AngeAnge Vierge
Story:
Magic girls good. Aliens bad.
Flavor:
Garbage. This show is so much crap. In addition to the first five minutes having more clichés and stereotypes than some shows have in their entire run, the rest of the episode is spent with the – entirely female – cast being BUTT FREAKIN’ NAKED. If this show doesn’t get tagged correctly (which it probably won’t since it’s on Crunchyroll), I might make a WZ for it just for anyone trying to look it up later. But, yeah, this show is garbage and it has been dropped and I may be a wee bit upset at the fact that this turd got funded and I’m still waiting on the next season of Yona of the Dawn.
Who cares when new episodes show up cause this show is craaaaaap 

hitorinoshitaHitorinoshita – The Outcast
Story:
Something about the dead rising again and people having supernatural abilities.
Flavor:
Slimy. While I can see that someone had some good ideas as to an intriguing story, they used a real mish-mash of ingredients and it makes for a rather gross taste. The story starts out convoluted as names and places are thrown around willy-nilly as if the audience should already know them. The dialog is stiff and awkward, as is the supposed “comic relief,” which just feels forced and out of place. Then there’s the animation. Good lord. At times it seems high quality, but the quality randomly drops to a very messy, incomplete level. I have a feeling time restraints, budget and a bad mix of very different animation studios is the culprit here. In some cases the frames don’t even match up. For example, in one scene the lead looks to one side, but there’s nothing there. A jump later and he’s looking at the opposite side where there’s a dead body. So, in other words, the close up cut made the eyes go the wrong way. Considering how bad just one episode was on all of this, I have no desire to see any more. This show has been soundly dropped.
New episodes every Saturday morning. Though it hardly matters as this is another drop.

So I started out with a solid ten shows and here we are, only one to two episodes in, and only eight shows are left on my list, with far fewer than that getting good marks. Time will tell how long they stick around…
What are y’all watching this season? Run into anything good thus far? What do you think of these shows?

 

Extra: Fall 2014 lineup

Other bloggers have noticed that this streaming season is abnormally slow, more so than ever before, and I agree. Often I start out sampling around five or six shows, only keeping three or so on my viewing list to finish. This time, however, I only managed to find interest in three shows to sample. And while they look decent enough, there’s no doubt that this is going to be a rather dry streaming season.
As such, I’ve taken on a few shows to try that have already been out for various amounts of time. But more on that later. For now, let’s got over the fall shows!

whensupernaturalWhen Supernatural Battles Become Commonplace 
I must say, I didn’t expect this comedy to be all that funny. But it has some decent enough jokes, though quite a few are very dead-pan, so be warned if that isn’t your thing. There was definately a slight Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya air to it, though it’s even less serious of a show and has the “carefree” feels amped up far higher. The characters are all pretty predictable and straightforward, with the art and music being nothing unique either.
There are some surprisingly serious aspects to this show, however. And I was shocked to find how well done they were. Though we’re still a bit too early in the show to have a great deal of stock in the characters, seeing one character broken hearted after a misunderstanding, trying to hide her tears of disappointment by looking up and blinking rapidly, actually connected a bit with me. It’s extremely hard for a comedy based show to get stong emotional reactions out of an audience, especially this early on, so I gotta give em props for that. Even so, this kind of show really can’t be expected to be too serious too often. And I worry that it might dissolve into a show like If Her Flag Breaks, a series I never even finished due to it forgetting it was light comedy and trying to be far more serious than it had any right to be.

yona-of-the-dawnYona of the Dawn
Gotta have a shoujo for the season and, thankfully, this one looks like it might actually have a decent story and heroine! Although shoujo series set during this era/setting (this appears to be a fantasy realm based loosely on feudal Japan) tend to be painful to get through due to their overabundance of cliché material, I’m giving this one a shot due to simply having that few options this season.
And I’m glad I did. Unlike most shows of this genre, the dark elements of the plot are actually touching the heroine and, for now, being taken quite seriously. The flash forwards also show the heroine so vastly different in personality from the “current” (aka her past self) version you see most of the time, that there seems to be promises of decent character development. An element I’m looking forward to a great deal. Only time will tell if this show can keep on track and not be derailed by the pull of romantic clichés, however.

gugureGugure! Kokkuri-san
Like When Supernatural Battles, Kokkuri-san is largely a comedy. And it is indeed rather amusing. However, like the before mentioned show, this one also attempts emotional depth rather fast. A bit too fast. We’re talking last half of episode one. And while I admit to being rather cold hearted at times, I think most viewers, no matter how gentle in heart, will find the last half of that pilot episode a bit… off. The entire drama of it hinges on the relationship between the two main characters. However, we’ve had all of twelve minutes with them. Their relationship is nearly non-existent.
That said, the comedy was decent enough to warrant me giving it another episode or two more. Let’s just hope it sticks to comedy though. At least long enough to establish a solid foundation.

And now two shows that are already complete:

wolfsrainWolf’s Rain
On Artemis’s suggestion, I’ve begun trying out a classic in the anime world. And though I’m only one episode in, I must say, it’s impressive. 80’s era opener aside, the show is visually gorgeous and the characters are a bit unexpected and the plot a question mark. Both good things in my case as all too often characters and plot are easy reads episode one, making it hard for me to want to keep watching.
Although only time will tell if this show can be reviewed on here (the violence is rather high), it’s nice to see a bit more effort put into a show. Instead of just updated visuals and little else.

magicawarsMagica Wars
At only four or so minutes an episode, this show is hard to peg. I mean, it seems like a run of the mill magical girl show. And, honestly, the only thing going for it right now is the pretty art. That’s about it. It’s still a bit early for me to tell what it’s trying to do. Or even if it’s doing much of anything at all. There’s a decent chance this show will be dropped, but it’s a weird one (I mean, why was this funded?) so I might stick with it for a bit for curiosity’s sake.