After blogging Kyoukai no Kanata back in Fall, I am back with some first impressions from the new season. I am very excited about this season so far as it looks like one of the strongest anime seasons in years. So let’s get right into it…
Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou
I think the megane woman, Mayumi Nishikino, is actually a perfect analogy for this show as a whole. From a distance she looks absolutely beautiful, well animated, and high production value. But when you look closer… you realize she is actually a huge pervert.
In all seriousness though, this show does look fucking gorgeous. The extremely detailed backgrounds and fluid animation are a visual treat. I really like the main girl, Ritsu Kawai, with her cold and standoffish demeanor as a potential love interest. If they can keep the story focused on the relationship between Usa and Ritsu I think it has a lot of potential.
That being said, I am rather worried about the other characters they have introduced so far: His roommate being is a total pervert with pedophilic tendencies and Mayumi (see above) is a sex-starved working woman. Almost all of the comedy in this episode was playing on their raunchiness. This is not a bad thing by itself, but when combined with the creeper-ish tendencies of the MC I found it a bit off-putting. I am definitely going to watch a few more episodes, if only for the sunsets, but unless they shift to focus on to the romance I don’t see me continuing for very long.
Blade and Soul
As I said in my preseason preview, I am watching Blade and Soul with a very vested interest. Since I play and really enjoy video games I would love to see good anime adaptations of video game stories. I don’t think the challenges of adapting an interactive story from an RPG to be too much more complex than adapting a visual novel. Part of the problem may be with the goals of each story. VNs are usually set up to explore a set of characters which can translate fairly well to an anime narrative. While many RPG stories are set up so the player can explore worlds instead of characters, which may not be as engaging for an anime audience. Since I have not played the game Blade and Soul I don’t know much about the narrative they planning to cover, but as long as it is reasonably character focused I think it could turn out well.
The main reason I am personally invested in Blade and Soul doing well is so it can set a precedent for the industry. In the past, many game creators have commissioned anime adaptations with the sole purpose of marketing their game, usually given very limited budget (since it is basically an extended commercial) these anime often “feel” like cash grabs and thus are judged poorly. This pattern has caused a cascade effect that anyone wanting to do an anime adaptation of a game expects it to do poorly, underfunds it, and it repeats the cycle. So what we need is an anime adaptation of a game with a rich, character driven story, that is given the budget they need to break this cycle. I am really hoping that Blade and Soul will be it.
As to the episode itself, overall I am very satisfied but with a few reservations. They introduced the main protagonist, Alka, as a mysterious soldier for hire who is on the run from the Palam Empire naturally without resorting to an info dump. However, I was a bit disheartened when they decided throw restraint to the wind and have her fight naked in the first episode. They never showed anything obscene, and kept a serious tone throughout, but I could not help but feel like it was poorly-disguised pandering. I thought the way the villagers reacted when Alka told them she used to be a member of the Palam Empire to be a bit silly. They just saw her kill two Palam messengers, but now they think she is a spy or something? I can imagine that they would be angry because it was possible that she had killed some of their clansmen while working for Palam but still. They could have asked her about it instead of just jumping to conclusions and threatening to kick her out. The scene with Morii trying to defend her, but at the same time struggling to maintain the respect of the village elders seemed a bit rushed as well. We only had her introduction as the daughter of the village chief before this so I found it hard to be engaged by her struggle. Lastly, the whole situation escalated really quickly. Alka sent the surviving messenger back in fear, and not 6 min later in the episode the village is destroyed by a Palam counter attack. This kinda makes me think that they are trying to get through a lot of game lore and only have twelve episodes to do it.
Despite these missteps, I am still hopeful for the rest of the show. The artwork and animation quality are higher than I was expecting, though I say this cautiously since it might be a first episode budget bias and could always decline later. The world itself seems rich and interesting (which is usually one of the strong points of RPG games) and they are revealing it naturally without too much exposition in one place which impressed me. Nothing they have done wrong here is completely damning and there is plenty of potential for the show to maintain its footing.
Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to The Animation
I am starting to become a real fan of the short format for comedy shows. Specifically Tonari no Seki-kun from last season which was comprised of episode long jokes and almost nothing that resembles a plot. If you had to sit through it for 22 min straight of insubstantial comedy it would most likely get very tiresome very fast. However, such a show can easily keep the energy up in a ten minute format without it becoming excessive.
To this end, Mangaka-san to Assistant-san is going for a raunchier take on the comedy short format. The protagonist, Yuuki Aito, is working as an up-and-coming (?) Mangaka trying to make generic ecchi doujins. However, since he lacks worldly experience, in order to make sure his ecchi manga is the best quality it can be he asks his assistant, Yuuki Aito, to act as a reference. When I first watched I had a very surreal sense of déjà vu because the VAs for the two leads in Mangaka are also the same VAs as the leads in Buddy Complex (the Sunrise Mecha show from last season). They were using the exact same voices and everything so suddenly hearing the pair making dirty jokes very shocking to me.
The primary comedy angle seems to be playing the MC’s completely out of touch ecchi mindset against the very reasonable mindsets of his female coworkers. Yuuki’s dramatic overreaction to the common sense behavior of the girls was pretty priceless. I have no idea if they will milk twelve episodes of material out of this single angle or if they are going to branch out. However they kept me laughing all through the first episode, which is exactly what I would expect from a show structured like this. Until they really drop the ball I am on board for more.
Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei
Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei was one of my most anticipated shows coming into this season and I am very happy with how it is shaping up. Last season I was mostly disappointed by Mahou Sensou, also from Madhouse, and the comparison to Mahouka is too striking not to mention. Both are magical combat shows, partially based in a school setting, with OPs and EDs from big names like nano and LiSA. However, after seeing the first episode I think Mahouka is pretty solid. I really like the rich, magic-sci-fi world they have set up. Little details like it being strange to see someone with glasses because of the prevalence of magically improved eyesight really help to add texture. The animation quality for the fight scenes in this episode was very high. I say this with some reservations, because I said the same thing about the first episode of Mahou Sensou (whose animation quality swiftly declined). As long as they stay the course I plan to stay for the long haul.