Roving Thoughts

2021-05-02

My (Twitter) reactions to the first episodes of the Spring 2021 anime season

As before I'm collecting here all of my tweeted reactions to the first episodes I've seen (in the order that I saw them). This is delayed for various reasons.

  • Mars Red episode #1: I'm pretty sure I didn't understand all of that and I'm not sure how I feel about it, but it was definitely different and interesting because of that. I don't know if it can sustain everything it's trying to do and hold my interest, though.

  • Thunderbolt Fantasy S3 episode #1: All of these good characters are back, bantering back and forth. We got some plotting and a bit of a fight too, but that part was really all just a warmup (but the demon is totally up to things, she always is).

  • SSSS.Dynazenon episode #1: Our protagonists clearly have plenty going on but at the same time they didn't really do anything this episode; they were at the mercy of fate (which may be the point, but still). That left the big fight feeling disconnected and floating.

  • Super Cub episode #1: That was quietly great, or at least very my thing. The great scenery, the mood, the understated bits of (sad) story, various little details, everything clicked for me. The night ride was all beautiful and of course she fell asleep in her entryway.

  • Blue Reflection Ray episode #1: That felt perfectly okay but also underwhelming and rather slow. I got lost in the barrage of characters, and I don't think it quite had the chops for its 'show don't tell' attempts (or the command of atmosphere to pull off its pacing).

  • I've Been Killing Slimes For 300 Years And Maxed Out My Level episode #1: That was inoffensive and ordinary. I can believe this could have charm and appeal (and I see some gestures that way), but the first episode didn't particularly hook me.

  • Joran The Princess Of Snow And Blood episode #1: That was reasonably interesting, although it also had a pretty ordinary presentation and a certain amount of cliches (and one spot felt like it was trying too hard to be edgy and adult).

I've had vague ambitions of watching some more shows that looked potentially promising, but at this point it's clear that they're not going to come to pass; as I write this, some shows are on their fifth episode. My overall hit rate from first episode previews has also not encouraged me to try more, as I'm already down to three of these seven.

(Super Cub, SSSS.Dynazenon, and Thunderbolt Fantasy S3, in my order of enthusiasm.)

As is customary for me, reactions to later episodes are in a twitter conversation chain from my first episode tweets, up to where I stopped following a show.

anime/Spring2021FirstEpisodes written at 19:54:00; Add Comment

2021-02-14

My (Twitter) reactions to the first episodes of the Winter 2021 anime season

As before I'm collecting here all of my tweeted reactions to the first episodes I've seen (in the order that I saw them). This entry is delayed for various reasons so I'm throwing in some bonus additional notes.

  • Otherside Picnic episode #1: That was okay at what it did but as a stand alone work I felt like it lacked some vital spark of engagement amidst the frenzy of weirdness, action, and horror-ish mood. I'm not unbiased though, since I've looked at the manga.

  • Laid-Back Camp S2 episode #1: What can I say? Seeing young Rin was great (especially the failures (and learning) and then the curry cup), and then we got all the current day stuff. The magic is 100% back (or, if you prefer, continuing).

    (As you would expect, Laid-Back Camp has continued to be excellent.)

  • So I'm a Spider, So What? episode #1: I'm predisposed to like this for various reasons, but it was still reasonably fun although limited by all of the setup work it had to do. I hope it gets better in future episodes once our spider gets to do more interesting and active things.

  • Horimiya episode #1: This was fun and charming and nicely done. None of these people are your usual potatoes and I can believe what's happening with them. I don't know where the show is going to mine drama from, though, and if I'm going to be happy watching that happen.

    (I only just got around to watching the second episode of this, so I don't know if I'm really going to stick with it.)

  • Hortensia Saga episode #1 is unfortunately not interesting enough for me to finish. It's a collection of cliches with one of the least convincing 'girl cosplaying as a guy' cases I've seen. I can only conclude that everyone on her side knows it.

  • Kid from the Last Dungeon episode #1: That was decently funny, although not very deep. One of the things that made it work is that some but not all of the people around Lloyd knew how powerful he was, which led to a certain amount of tension. But it's painting pretty broadly.

    (I would up abandoning this part way through episode 3.)

  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime episode #25: Partly re-introduction to things and partly a slow-moving setup episode, although they did put in some show-off fights at the end. It's still fun but I kind of wish it was more engaging right now.

    ('I wish this was more engaging' is part of my reaction to a lot of this season of Slime so far.)

  • Log Horizon S3 episode #1: My immediate reaction to this episode is that I'm not a fan of either the focus on politics or the theme of everything falling apart. Maybe there will be a triumphant ending to the season but right now it doesn't feel like getting there will be fun.

    (Although I haven't dropped this officially, I haven't watched the second episode. It may turn out to be another Full Metal Panic.)

  • Wonder Egg Priority episode #1: Oh wow, that was beautifully done. Also periodically painful in a quiet way and sometimes brutal, mostly in a 'the implied made real' kind of way. There were some very visceral moments. (What concretely happened is basically beyond summary.)

  • Sk8 the Infinity episode #1: That was okay but not compelling, especially in this busy season. I don't think the over the top nature of some things clicked with me, but the characters and the core gimmick of the episode were okay.

    (I didn't watch any more of this.)

In continuing shows, I'm still enjoying Jujutsu Kaisen.

anime/Winter2021FirstEpisodes written at 22:16:40; Add Comment

2020-10-30

Brief impressions of the Fall 2020 anime season so far

As before, it's time for my current views on how this season has shaken out so far, following up on my first episode reactions. At this point I've watched four episodes of everything I'm following, which is long enough for shows to establish themselves and usually for my views to stabilize. After a drought that kind of started when I abandoned the fall 2019 season, I'm apparently back to watching plenty of anime.

(I have some thoughts on that but I'm not sure they fit within the margins of an entry I want to write.)

Good:

  • Warlords of Sigdrifa: This is my surprise of the season, because it's unreasonably good (well, for its genre); the third episode was an especially good standout, but it has great touches all through (including in incidental background details). As I put it on Twitter, the show might have good fights but it's about people, and that's what gets me hooked.

    (With that said, it's not an entirely serious show.)

Entertaining:

  • Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear: This is a fundamentally charming story that I'm enjoying for that, and also for Yuna's faces and periodic nature as a little gremlin. I have an advantage in that I've been exposed to the story in manga form, where I also enjoyed it, so I'm happy to see it animated even if this is not a top notch flawless adaptation. Unfortunately the various flaws of this probably mean that people who don't know the story (and aren't fond of isekai in general) won't like the show at all.

    (Also, the protagonist is a girl, which is unusual and refreshing.)

  • Akudama Drive: On the one hand, the setting and most of the characters here are ludicrous in a stylish cyberpunk way, with the redeeming virtue that the show commits wholeheartedly to it (and has the animation to make it look good). On the other hand, I have gotten steadily more caught up in it every episode, as it reveals another twist and turn, and it does have one normal character that we can root for and care about as she gets caught up in everything. This has definitely become engaging watching where I care about what happens next.

  • Jujutsu Kaisen: So far the show is well executed shonen action with aspects of horror, which is basically what I was expecting from its genre and pedigree. It's adopting an ongoing Shonen Jump series, so I'm expecting lots of battles, little progress in any overall plot, no real conclusion, and a decent chance that I'll get bored with it before it ends. It has one solid female protagonist, but I'm also not expecting the show to treat her well, because shonen action shows (and manga) almost never do.

  • Assult Lily Bouquet: This is another 'fighting girls' show, and as usual I have slightly conflicted feelings. Overall I'm enjoying it and I find a number of the characters appealing; it's pretty well made and it knows how to do action and how to make action interesting (which aren't quite the same thing). It's also got a surprising streak of subtlety in its storytelling (both visual and in dialog). On the other hand, it is playing to a certain degree of fanservice and is somewhat over the top even for its genre.

    As an instance of its genre, it's pretty good, and I happen to like its genre when it's done well. However I don't think it has much appeal if you're not a fan of the genre and it certainly has some peculiar aspects if looked at objectively.

On the edge:

  • Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle: This is lightweight and only has one core joke, but so far it's managed to remain both funny and charming (sometimes through unexpected twists). It's been an entertaining way to pass some time so far, although I wouldn't be surprised if I grew tired of it eventually.

    (It helps that each episode is divided into several segments, so the jokes move along fairly briskly.)

  • Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon: This is reasonably fun, has a cast of female protagonists in an action series, and I like some of the characters. On the other hand it has all of the stately pacing and lack of a real spark that I expected from a follow up to Inuyasha, although this is an anime only thing so we have some hope of a conclusion. I'm casually enjoying it so far but I rather expect I won't make it all the way through (especially if it's more than one or maybe two cours).

  • By the Grace of the Gods: This is a pretty wholesome isekai and also quite bland and ordinary, in characters, situation, animation, and directing. That makes it basically a time filler. I'm apparently willing to keep watching for now but I'm probably going to wind up dropping it.

    (If it was the typical power fantasy type thing I would already have dropped it, but it's just charming enough to hang on for now.)

I don't currently have any urge to watch more than this (or to watch less), so I probably won't have any mid-season pickups. If I did, Adachi and Shimamura is the leading candidate for a look. There are other fantasy and isekai shows and I like the genre in general, but I think I have enough of them as it is this season.

PS: My ongoing impressions of each episode of the shows I'm watching are linked in a Twitter thread from my first episode reactions for each show. Twitter works better for these quick reactions than blog entries do, at least for me.

anime/Fall2020Brief written at 10:21:13; Add Comment

2020-10-17

My (Twitter) reactions to the first episodes of the Fall 2020 anime season

As before I'm collecting here all of my tweeted reactions to the first episodes I've seen (in the order that I saw them). Although I was pretty dormant in anime watching for the past two seasons (or longer), this time around I seem to have woken up with a new enthusiasm for watching things.

  • Jujutsu Kaisen episode #1: That was a pretty good action show first episode, although I probably cheated by reading the first three chapters of the manga beforehand (that's what's free online). It definitely leaves me intrigued and wanting more, which is its job.

  • Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear episode #1: If I didn't already know and like the story here, I'm pretty sure I would have bounced off this episode. It's rather flatly made and kind of incoherent, since it's starting part way into the story with no background.

    (The second episode was much better.)

  • Assault Lily BOUQUET episode #1: That was a decently done instance of its genre, with more interesting and better staged fights than usual. I even chuckled a few times, and it's not made the protagonist into a complete potato; she has some interesting bits.

  • Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle episode #1: That was definitely lightweight but also reasonably entertaining and funny. I can see this wearing out the joke soon enough, but for now I'm interested enough to watch another episode.

  • By the Grace of the Gods episode #1: That was decidedly ordinary, by which I mean 'bland'. I'll likely watch some more, mostly because it's there and I like the genre in general, but I suspect I'll drop it before the end of the season.

  • Akudama Drive episode #1: That was fun and crazy and stylish, and I like our protagonist, but it's not flawless. Most of the characters are deliberate cliches, this episode tells us nothing about what the show is about, and the whole thing is over the top in a slightly tired way.

  • Yashahime episode #1: As someone who has only a glancing exposure to Inuyasha, most of this episode was pretty empty and relatively opaque. It was also pretty bland and only okay as an episode of action, with a pretty empty monster of the week core.

    (Much like Kuma Bear, the second episode was much better.)

I was considering looking at Wandering Witch, but the commentary I've seen on Twitter suggests that it's not my kind of thing. Talentless Nana has some good reviews, but fortunately I've been spoiled on its shock twist because the shock twist shifts it into a genre I'm not interested in. It's possible I'll try out some other shows as junk food, but that's about it for things that look actually attractive.

(Adachi and Shimamura is somewhat tempting because I very much enjoyed Bloom into You, but I'm not sure if it would recapture Bloom's magic.)

And a surprise update:

  • Warlords of Sigrdrifa episode #1: That was really good in general but what completely sold me are all of the good characters and the character interactions. This might have had good fights but it was about people, and that makes all the difference in the end.
anime/Fall2020FirstEpisodes written at 17:51:11; Add Comment

2020-07-17

My (Twitter) reactions to the first episodes of the Summer 2020 anime season

As before I'm collecting here all of my tweeted reactions to the first episodes I've seen (in the order that I saw them). Well, that's the standard wording, except this time around I only watched one premier.

  • Deca-Dence episode #1: That was a hell of a ride, and fun as hell to boot. Our heroine is so expressive, I was not expecting how the climactic weapon worked, the whole setting is fun, and we have several mysteries set up on top of all the great stuff. I can't wait for more.

Nothing else that's airing this season sounds appealing to me, although some of them are getting good reviews. The Sakugablog season preview does a good job of praising Japan Sinks 2020, but a show revolving around a disaster is not something I want to watch these days for various reasons.

anime/Summer2020FirstEpisodes written at 18:04:38; Add Comment

2020-06-06

Brief impressions of the Spring 2020 anime season so far

As before, it's time for my current views on how this season has shaken out so far, following up on my first episode reactions. This is rather more delayed than usual, but I want to write down my impressions so far before these shows end (and how they end changes my impressions of them).

Surprisingly tense but sometimes flawed:

  • Gleipnir: This is one part battle show and one part psychological horror and tension; the two parts go together surprisingly well and make it the most interesting show I'm watching this season. The show has a very good command of atmosphere, which helps, but then it also has various flaws (many of them revolving around fanservice), which hurt a bit.

Entertaining:

  • Princess Connect! Re:Dive: This is a fun goofy show where the male protagonist being a potato is actually a feature. Karyl is the clear star in our ensemble cast, with Pecorine as the second best character, and I don't think it's an accident that Karyl is the one person who is getting a real character arc. With that said, Re:Dive is not where you should look if you want realistic characters and a deep story. It is nicely put together, though, with good direction, art, animation, and so on.

Sadly on the edge:

  • My Next Life as a Villainess: I like the concept and there are some good aspects to it, but by now the basic premise is starting to get a little threadbare and how the show treats Catarina is increasingly grating. If something different doesn't start happening soon, I may get bored with this and drop it.

I didn't continue Kakushigoto and I have tacitly suspended or dropped Listeners because I still haven't gotten the energy together to watch more of it. Things I've heard about Listeners writing have not been encouraging in that regard, and I'm not sure its overall apparent genre of 'teenagers being teenagers in a SF setup' is one that I'm very interested in any more.

anime/Spring2020Brief written at 14:32:48; Add Comment

Looking back at the Winter 2020 anime season

It's rather past time for my traditional look back at what I watched in the Winter 2020 anime season (after abandoning the fall 2019 season), to follow up on my earlier impressions. As seems to be typical these days, this wound up being a season where I didn't watch very many shows.

Great:

  • Magia Record: This sustained its pace and impact pretty much all through, although it didn't resolve anything; this is just the first half of a split cour show that resumes at some point (predictions of exactly when seem premature at the moment). It was all sorts of good in its own right without trying to be a re-telling of the story of Madoka Magica.

  • BOFURI: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense: This stayed enjoyable in a fun, goofy way all through the show, although some of the hijinks may have gotten repetitive after a while. The show may be unrealistic, but it's definitely fun (and sometimes the game developers deserved what Maple did to their game). In fact, I'll repeat my Twitter summary of the show:

    BOFURI as a whole was a fun romp with some nice depths of characterization, a solid grasp of its overall comedic tone, and good handling of action. The cunning plans were good ones and there were surprises (and yes, Sally is the ruthless planner behind the throne).

    I probably wouldn't mind watching more BOFURI, but I don't feel there's any need for more of the show and it might get a little repetitive. The further adventures of Maple, Sally, and so on are probably best left to our imagination (or the other media you can get it in).

    (Of course, reading the Wikipedia entry just told me that there's a second season coming, so someday I'll get to swallow these words.)

Dropped:

  • In/Spectre: I would say that this show had too much of people talking to each other, but that's not quite it; its fatal flaw was that there was no conflict in those conversations. I got too bored.

  • Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken: This stayed suspended and thus became dropped. I never got around to watching the fourth episode, but perhaps someday.

The Winter season was a pretty good one all told. Although I regret that Eizouken didn't click with me (and In/Spectre wasn't better), the two shows I did watch were both quite enjoyable in their own ways.

anime/Winter2020Retrospective written at 14:21:47; Add Comment

Looking back at the Summer 2019 anime season

This turns out to be so extensively delayed that I only just noticed that I'd never written it. So, it's very past time for my traditional look back at what I watched in the Summer 2019 anime season, to follow up on my earlier impressions. Since it's almost a year since I saw these, my impressions are a bit faded.

  • Symphogear XV: This was basically everything I could have reasonably asked for in a Symphogear show, especially one that basically wraps up the entire project (it may not stay wrapped up, in the way of these things, but it's definitely over for now). Symphogear unfortunately faced some structural story-telling issues in this season, but it still did good work, was quite enjoyable, and did some things to make the Symphogears not the sole saviors.

  • Granbelm: This was generally well made and well put together, it had a bunch of characters that I liked, and for much of its run it was quite good. Unfortunately, it took its story in a direction I'm no longer a fan of, and so I can't really judge the show fairly as a result of that. I think the show took its story where it wanted to go and probably succeeded on its own terms (or mostly succeeded, there were some awkward bits), and it was a good spectacle. But the end result left me a bit let down.

I eventually dropped everything else that I was watching in Summer 2019. Lord El-Melloi II's Case Files and Isekai Cheat Magician both failed to sustain my interest, Fire Force was too typically shonen (and there was the horrifying Kyoto Animation tragedy), Astra Lost in Space lost me for various reasons, and I stopped being able to put up with the flaws in Cop Craft, especially in its writing surrounding Tilarna.

anime/Summer2019Retrospective written at 14:04:51; Add Comment

2020-04-26

My (Twitter) reactions to the first episodes of the Spring 2020 anime season

As before I'm collecting here all of my tweeted reactions to the first episodes I've seen (in the order that I saw them).

  • Listeners episode #1: That was interesting, atmospheric, nicely directed, and had a good climax with some interesting action. The story felt pretty standard and I'm not sure where the show will go next; this was all setup and background.

  • Kakushigoto episode #1: This is beautiful, well made, and reasonably sharply written, but as usual its comedy doesn't work for me (and I'm not sure I'm a fan of the fundamental joke at its heart). It's nice and good, but not for me.

  • My Next Life as a Villainess #1: That was fun and funny, and Catarina makes a solid lead. It's nicely put together, too (beyond being my kind of thing). I'm very much looking forward to what happens next and what sort of absurd situations Catarina gets herself into.

  • Princess Connect! Re:Dive episode #1: This was reasonably fun and periodically funny. It's a bit hard to engage with these people as people, instead of cutouts, but potato-kun is definitely improved by mostly not speaking or doing anything.

  • Gleipnir episode #1: That was awkward, uncomfortable, and rather adolescent (male) sexual gaze, all of which was entirely intended. It was also pretty good; intriguing and well put together (although not flawless), with a fine control of atmosphere and quiet hanging tension.

Actually posting this entry has been delayed because I kept thinking I would watch a few more first episodes, but so far that's not happening. I will probably see some of Brand New Animal sometime but not right away, and I've decided that Sing "Yesterday" for Me is probably not my kind of thing in general and especially with the world and local mood as it is right now.

PS: As has become my habit, I've threaded my reactions to subsequent episodes for each series that I'm (still) watching on these first episode tweets.

anime/Spring2020FirstEpisodes written at 17:08:32; Add Comment

2020-03-07

The flaw in In/Spectre's conversations

Over on Twitter, I said:

I've realized that In/Spectre's fatal flaw is that these characters are explaining things to each other, rather than arguing back and forth, yelling past each other, or trying to pull fast ones. There's no conflict or drama in their conversations.

In/Spectre is by the same writer as Blast of Tempest, a show which I quite enjoyed (see my Winter 2013 retrospective). Both shows are full of talking and clever dialog (it's one of the writer's signature traits), but I'm not enjoying In/Spectre half as much as I did Tempest; in fact I'm increasingly finding In/Spectre kind of boring.

What I realized is that the two shows have different types of conversations. In Tempest, there was a conflict at the heart of most conversations; people were arguing with each other, trying to persuade each other or do deals, or at least trying to hoodwink and fool each other or hide information. In/Spectre is great when it's doing that sort of thing, when people are arguing or bickering or sniping at each other, but its most recent run of episodes has mostly involved people explaining things to each other or coming up with plans. There's no conflict, just talk.

(The few conversations that were not like this still have the spark to them, both in dialog and how they're staged.)

anime/InSpectreTalkingFlaw written at 15:16:10; Add Comment

(Previous 10 or go back to February 2020 at 2020/02/23)

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