In which I don’t know what I expected.
1. Shirobako (Episode 13)
Shirobako’s back and it’s just as great as ever. The show skillfully made the transition from work on Exodus to the new project and all the interesting changes that come with it. Tarou has managed to become the “head” production assistant mostly by virtue of being the only production assistant. I like seeing Aoi transfer into production desk work as it creates fun new dynamics for her working more closely with the director who, despite his shortcomings, was a character I wanted to see more of. I’m also happy to see Shizuka getting another audition and I really hope she gets it this time. Other than that, it’s more of the same for Shirobako which is a very good thing.
2. Koufuku Graffiti (Episode 1)
It’s been awhile since I enjoyed a new anime from Shaft. The last one was actually the show I just did a post about and it’s already been four years since then. Fortunately, the powers of Manga Time Kirara seem to be stronger than the powers of Shaft and Shinbou so Koufuku Graffiti is actually pretty good. I love the theme of enjoying food with close friends/family. Any show whose message is that life is naturally better when you’re with the people who care about is a winner for me. It doesn’t hurt that Ryou and Kirin are adorable together. The erotic quality of some of the eating was a bit off-putting I’ll admit but it occupied such a small part of the episode that it was limited to being a minor nuisance rather than a deal-breaker. I’m definitely looking forward to more of this one.
3. Parasyte (Episode 13)
Like Shirobako, Parasyte returns without missing a beat. This episode was very Shinichi/Migi heavy which is the best part of the show in my opinion. Seeing Shinichi need to weigh the need to survive against his desire to continue to assert his humanity is really compelling stuff and I’m glad to see more of it in this episode. I will say that there were times that it felt like things were getting a little angsty and the show was overplaying its dramatic hand, particularly when Murano was involved but like the erotic eating in Koufuku it’s mostly an annoyance rather than anything major. Parasyte is still really good.
4. The iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls (Episode 1)
So going into this show I had no knowledge of the Cinderella Girls side of iDOLM@STER outside of fan art. However, that fan art was enough to convince me that Shibuya Rin is the best and this episode did nothing to disabuse me of that notion. There have been cute anime girls and there have been sexy anime girls but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a character that fully embodies the concept of “pretty” the way Rin does. From her sharp, green eyes to her outfits to the general presence she has about her she’s just great. But despite all my gushing about Rin, the one who really stole the show this week was actually the producer himself. I really liked how the producer in the original iDOLM@STER anime managed to have a personality and endear himself to the viewer rather than just being the lone male around to make things harem-y. The CG producer improves on this by being endearingly awkward in addition to avoiding any feeling of harem-ness. I just love the way he earnestly goes about his work and the episode does a great job of introducing him through unspoken awkward moments rather than explicitly stating his character. The entire episode was charming and served as a great introduction to all three of the main characters. My Love Live fandom probably dictates that I should be saying bad things about this show but the truth is I like the iDOLM@STER as well and I’m really looking forward to seeing where CG goes.
5. Tantei Kageki Milky Holmes TD (Episode 1)
I’d only seen the first season of Milky Holmes but I decided to check out the fourth season because it has idols and… well, I don’t know what I expected. The show is still dumb as hell but it’s a charming and funny kind of dumb that I actually find myself quite enjoying. There’s something about random pots of honey being used to summon bees in order to inflate body parts so the characters can float that is exactly the right kind of nonsense for me. Kind of like Strike Witches with fanservice, Milky Holmes has a special brand of dumb comedy that isn’t like anything else and it actually works because of that. You won’t see it ever topping this list but Milky Holmes is still the kind of idiocy I can enjoy.
6. Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! (Episode 1)
I said in the season preview that this magical boy show had a good shot to be funny and what do you know? The first episode was actually really funny. The show is silly but it throws itself fully into its silliness and does a great job of satirizing the cutesy magical girl antics of precure type shows. The jokes come fast enough that you’re never left with enough time to think about the plot which is probably a good thing. The less time I spend trying to make sense of a pink space alien that looks like a wombat leading boys into battle against giant food monsters using their love sticks the better. I feel like Binan Koukou has tapped into a winning formula here and I just hope that it can keep it fresh for twelve episodes.
7. Kantai Collection: KanColle (Episode 1)
Speaking of shows that I only know through fan art, KanColle is a show where I know all the characters designs but I have no clue what the characters personalities are. I’m still mostly in the dark as KanColle’s premiere seemed more interested in giving every girl a little cameo rather than actually fleshing out the personalities of any of the characters. The show is not going to cater to newcomers and if you don’t know who the shipgirls are at this point they seem to have no intention of helping you out. A majority of the scenes felt like they were designed to appeal to somebody who watches and thinks “oh there’s that one girl I like” or “haha, I remember that from playing the game.” Which I suppose is fine when the existing fanbase is as big as it is but it makes it hard to sell the show to any outsiders. It leaves me somewhat disappointed because I was hoping that this show could really do something with the blank slate that is KanColle. Instead it seems they’re taking the conservative route of consolidating support among the existing fans rather than reaching out to anybody new which is unfortunate. Understandable from an economic standpoint, but still unfortunate. You lock in that baseline fanbase but take away the upside of bringing in more fans to supplement that fanbase while also avoiding the downside of losing existing fans and picking up nobody. It’s just the first episode though, things can change and I’ll keep watching because the show’s still pretty enjoyable despite the sense of confusion I had. In particular I really liked the effects like the arrows turning into planes and the launch sequence before the main battle was really cool as well. Hopefully KanColle can build on this and make something actually worthwhile out of a browser game.
8. Yuri Kuma Arashi (Episode 1)
I watched a show called Lesbian Bear Storm and… I don’t know what I expected. The show has lesbians and bears in ample measure and it wouldn’t be a stretch to call that mess of a plot a storm if you ask me. This episode was Ikuhara at his Ikuhara-est complete with the heavy reliance on symbolism and explicit content you’ve come to expect. It’s not news that Ikuhara prefer to say what he has to say via metaphor and symbol rather than being straightforward about it. His work is incredibly sense and many people love him for that but when I watched Penguindrum, and probably with Yurikuma as well, I find that the fulfillment I get from unpacking an Ikuhara show is not commensurate with the effort required to do so. It often feels like Ikuara delights in his own genius as he intentionally makes things as obtuse as possible and it’s not necessarily a style I love. Still, any Ikuhara work is probably a must watch just because of his influence on anime as a whole so I’ll keep watching and I’ll likely keep scratching my head as well.
9. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Episode 12)
Looks like two weeks wasn’t enough to fix what was wrong with KimiUso. I’ll have a full post tomorrow but in short this episode had some small narrative repetition problems and one huge Kaori problem. Kousei is once again forced into difficult circumstances because of Kaori and once again the show loves her for it. Add in that the awful comedic violence is back and I have a really hard time seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with this show.
10. Death Parade (Episode 1)
I feel like I like Death Parade much more as a concept than as an actual show on screen. The idea of a bar where the recently deceased go to play a game and hash out their real world baggage is appealing but the end product felt overwrought and, frankly, boring to me. Some people loved it as evidenced by its number one spot in this week’s official Anime Power Rankings, but it just left me cold. Given the very episodic nature of the premise it’s possible later episodes will appeal to me more but at this point Death Parade is on the very edge of being kept in the watching pile.
11. Rolling☆Girls (Episode 1)
It’s a rare feat to take a show with as much on-screen action and as lively a visual style as Rolling Girls and make me bored but that’s how I felt watching this episode. I barely care about real historical Japanese regional strife so my interest in fictional Japanese regional strife is effectively zero. Like Death Parade, Rolling Girls is drawing plenty of praise and comparisons to popular shows like FLCL and Kill la Kill but those are also shows I hated so I can’t say I’m surprised Rolling Girls does nothing for me either. Dropped.
12. Shinmai Maou no Testament (Episode 1)
And now we’re into the haremshit portion of our presentation. Testament is probably the best of the worst but that really is damning it with the faintest possible praise. The show is completely uninspired and the writing and characterization is terrible, but at least it actually delivers on the fanservice unlike some of the shows below it on this list. We’ll probably be group watching this show the rest of the season so you can look forward to more posts like this one. If it wasn’t for that this would be an easy drop though.
13. Juuou Mujin no Fafnir (Episode 1)
So, uh, other than the copious amount of D jokes this show was pretty much worthless. The plot was tired, rehashed garbage and the characters are all bland as hell. Plus the production values were awful. Dropped.
14. Absolute Duo (Episode 1)
More tired haremshit. Bunny-sensei was cute though. Next.
15. Saenai Heroine no Sodate kata (Episode 00)
Somebody should tell the people behind Saeinae Heroine no Sodate kata (or Saekano) that just because you point out how terrible your writing and characters doesn’t change the fact that your writing and characters are terrible. It’s frustrating to see a show self-aware enough to acknowledge the flaws in its writing but too lazy to actually fix those flaws. The episode tries to play them off as endearing quirks but instead it’s just infuriating to watch. The way the camera leers at the girls didn’t really help either. Despite my complaints and the last place ranking, this actually isn’t a drop for me. This was branded as episode 00 and definitely felt like a fanservice OVA rather than an actual part of the show. Given the original author of the light novels didn’t write this episode, and that same author also wrote White Album 2 I’m hoping that this is an aberration and the actual show turns out to be better than this. That said, this awful episode puts the real show on a much shorter leash than it was based simply on the staff and premise.