Roving Thoughts

2017-05-01

Looking back at the Winter 2017 anime season

Once again it's time for my traditional look back at what I watched in the past Winter season, to follow up on my early impressions and my midway views. This time around there is a surprise new appearance, which is part of why I haven't written this retrospective before now.

Excellent:

  • ACCA - 13-Territory Inspection Department: Some of the plot twists in the last episode were awfully convenient even if they had sort of been set up in advance and there were a few aspects of the setting that made me raise my eyebrows, but ultimately neither of those mattered. What made the show was both the characters and their interactions and the sheer atmosphere of the show, and it nailed both. ACCA was a show that was a lot about style and it had the style to make everything work. And I have to admit that some of the twists in the last episode were great.

    (One surprise given what happened in ACCA is how little violence it had, even when it could have.)

  • March comes in like a Lion: This didn't conclude so much as more or less resolve some ongoing character threads, which is perfectly fine since we're getting more later. But even if we weren't, I feel that the show picked a good point to pause; it carefully showed us how Rei had made genuine progress in moving forwards out of his paralyzed stasis (cf).

  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: What started out as a comedy turned into a show that was very explicitly and heartwarmingly about family. Oh, sure, there were still funny bits by and in the end, but family was the heart of everything going on and the epilogue of the show made it explicit. KyoAni did very good work here. In quiet little things, I liked how the mood shifted over the course of the show; for example, Kobayashi stopped exploiting Tohru, and the cast no longer staying late at work.

    (Kanna was a vital part of making things work. Her presence didn't create the family as such, but she made its existence obvious. And she got a beautiful part of an episode where the point wasn't what happened but what didn't.)

  • Kemono Friends: This is ultimately a kid's show, by which I mean that its episodic stories were generally relatively straightforward; there was friendship with new Friends (all of whom were nice people), obstacles to overcome with interesting but straightforward solutions, and so on. This doesn't mean that it was bad, though, or even merely ordinary; works for kids and young adults are quite capable of having significant depths once you start looking and being extremely good, and Kemono Friends definitely qualified here.

    Over its run Kemono Friends slowly and carefully built up a coherent world and overall plotline, built narrative momentum around everything going on, and used all of this to create a very powerful climax with genuine surprises, an epic title drop that really worked, and a happy ending that felt completely justified, partly because it used elements the show had been carefully feeding us all along. A lot of shows fumble their endings in some ways, but Kemono Friends delivered one of the best ones I've seen in a while . The show had both heart and smarts (and looking back, always had some interesting things quietly in the background).

    I don't know how Kemono Friends happened, especially from a staff that doesn't seem to have done much before, but I hope we get something more from this group of people. They have proven they can make excellent work even under challenging situations, so I'd love to see what they can do with another chance (on Kemono Friends or something else).

    (I'm someone who is not bothered by CGI if the rest of the show works, so I came to accept Kemono Friends' CGI even when it was pretty special.)

    (See also how watching Kemono Friends benefits from knowing some general spoilers.)

This season wound up being pretty thin on things to watch (since I only followed three shows during it; I started Kemono Friends basically after the season finished). However, everything I watched was somewhere between quite good and excellent (Kemono Friends is merely good a lot of the time; it back-loads its excellence as things get really rolling towards the end).

I do kind of regret that none of my secondary shows worked out for me this season. In the past I probably would have kept on watching Little Witch Academia, Blue Exorcist - Kyoto Saga, and maybe even KonoSuba and Akiba's Trip. But these days apparently I'm getting less interested in watching things I find merely ordinary or marginal, so out they all went by midway.

Winter2017Retrospective written at 01:09:37; Add Comment

2017-04-30

Brief impressions of the Spring 2017 anime season so far

We're somewhere between three and five episodes into everything I'm watching, which is long enough for most shows to show their cards and my opinions to firm up (and for me to drop some things). So, as usual, here's how my views of this season have shaken out, to follow up on my first episode reactions.

Excellent:

  • Eccentric Family second season: This doesn't have as explosive a start as I remember the first season having, but then we know a lot more of the background this time around. It's still great, with all of the good stuff from the first season and more things being thrown into the pot. I like that we're sort of seeing a different side of Yasaboru this time around, and he's certainly getting to sparkle.

Good:

  • WorldEnd (aka SukaSuka): I refuse to use the show's gigantic full name, which is very light novel (which it is). To my surprise, I've wound up feeling that the show is unreasonably good, much better than I expected, and it's ended up as my current second favorite show of the season. It has ordinary looks (in terms of character designs, background, colours, and so on) and some straightforward LN elements, but its characters and writing are surprisingly deep and good and it's convincingly sold me on its actual drama. It's also quite well directed and storyboarded, which really helps hold my interest despite its generally ordinary looks.

  • Alice & Zoroku: While the action isn't bad, it's the character interactions that continue to make this show, especially anything involving Zoroku. The show is sufficiently well written and directed to have given what could have been an over the top villain an affecting back-story that made her basically a tragic character (still a villain, though).

  • Rage of Bahamut - Virgin Soul: This is not as great as the start of the original Bahamut was, but it's pretty good. It helps that Nina is a solid, interesting character with a lot of appealing elements, plus there's Rita. Unfortunately the show has not sold me on the actual plot going on, partly because it feels a bit too crazy and so I've wound up feeling detached from it.

  • Re:Creators: This has an interesting concept but a concept is nothing if a show can't execute it well. The good news is that RC has been executing pretty well so far, not just with good action but also with good characters and good character and story interaction. It's not perfect, and in particular it has leaned a bit too much on exposition in sections. Of the shows I'm watching, this is the one that I feel is most balanced on an edge where it could easily tip over into merely okay or tolerable.

Same as it ever was:

  • My Hero Academia: This continues the original's frustrating mix of excellent work and slow, padded pacing that robs that work of a lot of its impact. I enjoy watching it but it's always frustrating to see how it could be better if only it would stop with all of the delaying tactics.

    In short, this is probably a great shonen show dragged down to being okay by its pacing. I'll still miss it when the season is over, though, just as I did the first installment.

Dropped:

  • Grimoire of Zero: The characters and their interactions were very nice, but they couldn't make up for the bland, cookie cutter overall story writing. The second episode was especially painful for me, as it plodded through entirely predictable story elements without any particular spark, so I dropped the show.

Misses:

  • Granblue Fantasy: Far, far too generic, as I tweeted. Unlike Grimoire of Zero, this didn't even have interesting characters to make up for its painfully generic storyline.

Not considered for fuzzy reasons:

  • Atom The Beginning: This might ordinarily be my kind of thing, but the ANN preview guide failed to make it sound appealing enough to sample.

  • Eromanga Sensei: Despite Author's praise, I have various reasons for giving this a pass, including the setting.

  • Seven Mortal Sins: Not my kind of thing in general (I generally don't wind up liking fanservice-heavy shows even if they throw in action as well), and like last season's Gabriel Dropout it's probably more entertaining to sometimes watch people watching it on Twitter rather than actually watch it myself.

  • KADO: The Right Answer
  • Frame Arms Girl
  • Clockwork Planet
  • Twin Angels Break

As seems to have become my pattern, I'm not watching any popcorn shows, by which I mean merely okay or passable shows that I watch primarily to pass the time while I have some coffee or whatever. There are such shows airing this season (Grimoire of Zero probably qualifies, for example), but I'm just not interested these days. If I'm not actively enjoying it, I appear to drop it aggressively or not even consider it.

I continue to not look at Sakura Quest, as covered earlier here. Some commentary suggests that the fourth episode is a significant step down, so I feel justified in this so far. There are some fairly acclaimed shows airing in this season that are just not in my area of interest as far as plot and setting go, such as Tsuki ga Kirei (see eg Nick Creamer's writing on it).

Spring2017Brief written at 18:42:47; Add Comment

2017-04-21

My (Twitter) reactions to the first episodes of the Spring 2017 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).

  • My Hero Academia episode 14 is just the same as always; I like the characters but the pacing is still really slow and hurting the show.

  • Granblue Fantasy episode 1 is not interesting enough for me to even finish the episode; I made it 15 minutes before quitting.

  • Alice & Zouroku episode 1 was fun, interesting, and intriguing, but the character interactions really made it. I especially like Zoroku.

  • Rage of Bahamut - Virgin Soul episode 1 was slower and not as exciting as ep 1 of the original, but the ending portion made up for it.

  • Re:Creators ep 1 was interesting & well done, but so far it just sets up the premise; it doesn't tell us what the show'll be like or about.

  • Eccentric Family S2 episode 1: The tanuki are back, Kyoto is beautiful, and things are spooky & quietly tense. It's everything I could want.

  • SukaSuka episode 1: Now that's how you start a slow-build show. There's nothing new here but it's very well assembled & pretty appealing.

  • Grimoire of Zero ep 1 was very light novel but also surprisingly appealing and well done. The characters are cliches, but interesting ones.

These are all the first episodes I've felt energized enough to watch so far and I'm probably not interested in adding more so I'm going to call it here, even with a few potentially interesting ones unwatched. Notably missing is Sakura Quest, which is frequently praised but has a setting that usually doesn't work for me, and I'm not certain the premise sounds like my thing either. Perhaps I will get around to it later, but so far I've felt like watching Kemono Friends instead.

Spring2017FirstEpisodes written at 22:09:13; Add Comment

2017-04-06

Watching Kemono Friends benefits from knowing some general spoilers

Kemono Friends was a series that didn't even make my radar for the winter season, but it's been steadily picking up buzz and good press and I recently started watching it. This experience very much benefits from knowing some general spoilers due to what I'm going to call the Symphogear effect.

Much like Symphogear but more so, the opening episodes of Kemono Friends are not particularly attractive on their surface. The CGI is frankly janky (although I can get used to it and I even find it kind of charming now) and the general plot of each episode is not particularly deep. While the show is laced through with mysteries and allusions, it's all too easy for a show to drop lots of hints that amount to absolutely nothing and plenty of shows fumble their ending this way. Which is where the general spoilers come in, because they do the crucial work of letting me know that Kemono Friends is not one of these.

For example, those mysteries and allusions are in fact our old friend incluing at work doing subtle worldbuilding. Those uneasy feelings I get when I watch the show and see things in the background are entirely intentional, and paying attention is thus actively rewarding; I'll pick up things and have fun theorizing. And things like Nick Creamer's review of Kemono Friends lets me know that the smart writing I think I'm seeing is not an illusion and the show has a real and satisfactory payoff in the end.

All of this elevates the show well above its relatively modest surface appeal. When watching Kemono Friends with this advance knowledge, I can both enjoy the surface, which is decently entertaining in a lightweight way, and amuse myself by thinking about all of the things in the background. I'll also admit that seeing all the memes and artworks of various characters on Twitter has helped to prime me for their actual appearances in the show. If I'd tried to watch Kemono Friends cold without this general background, I suspect that I'd have bounced off the show entirely on the grounds that it was very little more than it appeared to be and didn't have enough promise.

(The surface show of Kemono Friends is okay but it's not deep; it's goofy friendship slice of life and learning experiences, mixed with lectures on animals and ecologies and so on. I might have watched it for that alone if I was sufficiently bored, which I actually might have been last season.)

KemonoFriendsAndSpoilers written at 20:00:13; Add Comment

2017-03-12

Checking in on the Winter 2017 anime season 'midway' through

It's time for a slow-moving midway update on my early impressions. This update has been delayed in part because I didn't want to admit something, and that was partly because of the tacit pressure of conformity.

Excellent:

  • ACCA - 13-Territory Inspection Department: This has continually been the most interesting show I've been watching this season. It wasn't always clear where it was going (and it's still not), but it had such a sense of style, atmosphere, and character that that didn't matter. And while I wasn't really looking, in its quiet, atmospheric way the show has covered a huge amount of plot territory, especially in the past few episodes. I can't wait to see where it goes next.

  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: This is still a comedy but it's a lot more than that too; at its heart it's about family. I don't like all of it, but enough of every episode lands that it's great. It has a real mastery of quiet moments, background things, and little gestures.

In ongoing shows, March comes in like a Lion has continued to be quietly great. There are less fireworks now than there used to be, but more development and progression. Shimada has been a great addition to the cast.

Not for me:

  • Little Witch Academia: In the end, this is basically a kids show (that's made by Trigger, and is airing at midnight because apparently the TV anime model is fundamentally broken). There's nothing wrong with LWA being a kid's show, but kids shows generally don't really appeal to me and LWA has not been the exception.

    This is kind of what I was worried about before LWA started airing, although not exactly it. In the end it was less the cliched stuff and more the general style that didn't work for me. I have a bunch of issues with what happened in the episodes I watched, but in the end all of them come from looking at a kids show with the eyes of an adult.

Dropped:

  • Blue Exorcist - Kyoto Saga: In the end, the slow pacing killed it for me. This has the leisurely execution of a show that knows it's adapting a manga arc and is thus ultimately not particularly going anywhere. I like the characters, but no.

  • Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2: Episode 4 was all about Darkness and I hate what the show does with Darkness, so I bounced off it and then realized I wasn't particularly interested in the show as a whole. The show had one core joke and mostly wore it out in the first season; the things it did in the first three episodes of the second season weren't enough to keep me (and some of them I disliked).

I have continued to not watch Saga of Tanya the Evil, and what I've heard about recent developments have convinced me that this is the right decision (partly because I'm on Tanya's side in one small aspect of the show, although everything else I've heard about her makes me think I'd dislike her).

In the past I've felt antsy when I was down to this few shows I was watching. This season I have no such issues so far, and I think that that's partly because the three remaining shows are all really good ones. They each leave me happily contented when I watch an episode and I eagerly anticipate the next one when it gets close.

Winter2017Midway written at 18:53:04; Add Comment

2017-02-18

Where I think each Pure Illusion world comes from in Flip Flappers (part 2)

(This won't make much sense if you haven't seen Flip Flappers, plus it sort of has spoilers.)

To follow on my original entry on the sources of the Pure Illusion worlds, here are some additional notes that are really too big to be added on as an update to the original entry.

  • episode 3: As of episode 11, the episode 3 desert world is pretty strongly attributed to Sayuri, per @PeterFobian and @B0bduh. Nick Creamer's tour of the Pure Illusions worlds contains a longer explanation of the evidence (and some additional details).

  • episode 5: I'm basically persuaded by Emily Rand's argument in Yayaka's world (and a few stray thoughts on Flip Flappers' Pure Illusion that episode 5's setting comes from Yayaka. And frankly it's just neat for it to be that way, because (as Emily Rand notes) there are a whole lot of thematic resonances and reflections between Yayaka and the setting. It's the kind of thing that makes me slap my forehead and go 'wow, it so totally makes sense'.

    (I'll also note that despite the horror movie overtones, the setting of episode 5 is not intrinsically dangerous. There are no monsters, no deprivation, no threats. If anything, the school is a refuge from the dangerous outside.)

  • episode 9: I'm not persuaded by Emily Rand's argument (from the above-mentioned entry) that the world here is (mostly) the twins. I stand by my views that it primarily draws on Yayaka, although I'm willing to believe that it's intended to reflect and draw on the twins as well. Another person also feels that the episode 9 world is likely the twins. But I still feel that the visual resemblance to Yayaka's locker room scene at the start of the episode is too on-point for Yayaka to not be deeply involved.

In a show as deliberately constructed as Flip Flappers is, I can't help but read something into the last-minute revelation about the source of the episode 3 world. What I personally see it as is a message from the creators to us that we're not overlooking clues to where all the worlds come from; for some of them, we don't necessarily have enough information because the show has simply not shown it to us, just as the show hadn't shown us the necessary information about episode 3's world until the last moment in episode 11.

As a result, I don't think any of the remaining uncertainties can be settled with evidence from within the show. If we find out for (relatively) sure, it will be through future interviews with the creators, BD booklet notes, and other external sources of information.

(Apparently the director wanted to add at least some additional things to the BD releases of Flip Flappers, so it's possible that BD versions of episodes will also reveal more things. But I haven't heard anything about that so far.)

FlipFlappersPIWorldSourcesII written at 00:09:17; Add Comment

2017-02-12

Some trivia on the bikes and gear of Long Riders!

Apparently the manga version of Long Riders! is much more explicit about what real-world bikes all of the protagonists rode than the anime was (as usual, the anime altered most brand names). This report on the manga volume 5 release names everyone's bikes, and this Reddit comment has more specific model numbers (and see also this Reddit comment on Ami's road bike).

The first surprise here is that Makino, the brand name of Saki's bike, is a real Japanese bike maker and is used un-altered in the anime. In fact, Makino has put together a web page on Saki's bike, with full specifications if you can read Japanese, and seems to be quite happy to be associated with the manga and the anime.

Ami, Aoi, and Hinako all ride unsurprising bikes. Ami and Aoi have basically normal aluminum frame road bikes, with Aoi's being more expensive (and having some carbon fiber parts); Hinako rides a more expensive, higher end carbon fiber bike that's nominally more of a race bike. The twin surprises to me are Yayoi and Saki. Yayoi is riding a custom-built steel frame bike, which is well out of the ordinary for road bikes. Saki is riding a carbon fiber road bike, which is perfectly normal as a bike but is unusual for her because stereotypically the type of randonneuer who wants to go to Paris-Brest-Paris will ride a steel framed touring bike (although apparently an increasing number of people are doing PBP and similar long brevets on carbon fiber bikes).

(You can get into a lot of arguments about whether steel frame road bikes are any heavier than aluminum road bikes, as actually kitted out in the field. Let's just say that if Yayoi wants a relatively light steel frame bike, she can get it. It won't be as light as Hinako's carbon fiber bike, though.)

As I discovered, the bike headlights Ami, Hinako, and Yayoi are using (especially in episode 11) appear to be the Cateye Volt 1200. This is a relatively high end bike light, but we already knew that Hinako and Yayoi liked to buy good but expensive gear. And it will put out 150 lumens for 15 hours and has swappable batteries, making the seven hour or so night ride in episode 11 reasonably sensible.

(It does raise the question of why Ami freaked out when her helmet light went out, since she could switch her headlight up to a much brighter mode. But, well, it's Ami.)

Ami, Aoi, Hinako, and Yayoi all use older style magnet based speed sensors for their bike computers. Ami has hers on her front wheel, which is the easy place to mount it; everyone else has theirs on their rear wheel, which is where more advanced people put it for various reasons. Saki has no sensor visible, which probably means that she has a modern accelerometer-based wireless speed sensor. Hinako is definitely using a GPS-based Garmin unit; I suspect that Yayoi and Saki are using a GPS based bike computer as well, and perhaps Aoi too.

(Theoretically GPS-based units don't need a speed sensor. But having one makes their speed readings more accurate, and we already know that Hinako and Yayoi buy good gear.)

One of the interesting questions is whether Ami is using clipless pedals or not. The anime never had any sequence of Ami trying to use these (and it's certainly a learning experience that's good for a certain amount of comedy), but her road bike's pedals are definitely dual-sided, where you can use regular shoes or clip in with special shoes, and in later episodes she's clearly using the clipless side and seems to be wearing special biking shoes that you use with clipless pedals. I suspect that the anime skipped this part of Ami's learning experiences in the interests of time, as it omitted other things from the manga.

(Everyone else is definitely using clipless pedals and shoes.)

This Reddit story links to several YouTube videos that match up various Long Riders! locations with their real world counterparts. Unsurprisingly, a lot of places in the anime are real places.

(I'm writing this entry down before everything Long Riders! related falls out of my head over time.)

LongRidersBikesAndGear written at 19:30:26; Add Comment

2017-01-30

Brief impressions of the Winter 2017 anime season so far

We're three episodes into everything I'm watching, which is long enough for shows to get at least a bit established and for my opinions to firm up (and for me to drop some things). So here's how my views of this season have shaken out, following up on my first episode reactions.

Good trending to excellent:

  • ACCA - 13-Territory Inspection Department: The show has managed to nail being stylishly cool and intriguing. Things have been developing slowly, but it's clear that this is deliberate; the show is building a particular mood, one where it's increasingly obvious that a lot is going on underneath the surface.

  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: This is the rare comedy that works for me, and on top of that it's charming and heart-warming. The addition of Kanna and the third episode as a whole made it more or less explicit that the show is partly about family and being family, in its own quiet way. Part of what makes the show work so well for me is that every so often the dragons are terrifying (and once upon a while, so is Miss Kobayashi).

As for my one ongoing show, March comes in like a Lion continues to be somewhere between good and excellent depending on the individual episodes (and even the segments within episodes).

Good:

  • Little Witch Academia: This is basically just as charming as the OVAs. It's not particularly deep or complicated, but it's telling its story pretty well and it has very good (genre) characters.

Okay:

  • Blue Exorcist - Kyoto Saga: This has the leisurely progress of an adaptation that is going to faithfully follow a manga arc and then stop. It's okay, but either the original was not as good as I remembered or something has fallen off in this version. There are flashes of the old magic every so often in the character interactions, but I couldn't describe this as a quite good shonen fighting series. It's okay and I have enough affection for the whole thing to keep watching.

Holding on for now:

  • Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2: KonoSuba is KonoSuba, for better and for worse. People who've been watching know what to expect and the second season is more or less delivering so far. Kazuma grates on me more than he used to; I'm not sure whether he's just getting more dialog this season or I'm more aware of his annoying side.

    Darkness has been pleasantly absent for the last two episodes, but I don't expect that to last or for her to be any better than before.

Dropped:

  • Chain Chronicle (TV version): There's nothing wrong with this but it's uninspired and has a little bit too much emphasis on what are clearly game mechanics. It just failed to make me care enough to watch more.

    (I've decided that I refuse to use the show's ridiculously long full official name here, just because. You can see that on Crunchyroll.)

  • Akiba's Trip The Animation: I realized that I didn't care about either the characters or what was going on in the show.

  • Interviews with Monster Girls: Too much emphasis on student romantic feelings about the male teacher, too little Hikari being Hikari. There are the bones of an interesting show underneath the harem setup that this apparently has decided to be. I'm not interested in harem shows in general, and student/teacher romantic yearnings make me grind my teeth almost every time.

  • Schoolgirl Strikers: This isn't so much bland as flavourless. As I put it on Twitter:

    It's striking how inoffensive it manages to be. It feels like the safest, most cautious take on this genre ever.

    'Fighting Girls' shows usually manage to have some sort of spark, even if it's a bad idea carried through badly. SS has thoroughly drowned any such things that came near the show, just in case. See also Nick Creamer's one sentence summary.

I have been enjoying watching people watching Gabriel DropOut on Twitter more than I suspect I would enjoy watching the actual show. The same is sort of true of Saga of Tanya the Evil, but an increasing chorus of people like Nick Creamer may get me to give it a two episode audition at some point.

(Watching people watching shows on Twitter gets me a suitable diet of jokes and reactions and funny faces and moments from the shows and so on. It's not the same as the actual shows for good and bad, but it's a lot more lightweight.)

I'm not going to say anything about how I feel about this season because there's still a lot of ways that things could go wrong. ACCA is writing a lot of narrative cheques that it may not be able to actually cash, and Dragon Maid needs to stay fresh over its entire run. But I've certainly got my fingers crossed (as I do most seasons, to be honest).

Winter2017Brief written at 23:25:45; Add Comment

2017-01-21

Looking back at the Fall 2016 anime season

Once again it's time for my traditional look back at what I watched this past season, to follow up on my early impressions and my midway views. My overall summary is that this season was good but thin, with great highs but not much depth on the bench.

Great:

  • Flip Flappers: Beyond everything else about it, this is very much my kind of show and so I was never really going to be able to judge it completely objectively. But even so, I loved Flip Flappers, not just the way it told its story but the story itself. It was a great ride and a lot of fun and I fully endorse it, although how it told its story and how it ended will irritate a certain number of people.

    (I think it ended great, but then I have odd tastes.)

  • March comes in like a Lion: This started off slow and quiet and then just built and built, creeping into my heart at every step. I can't say why specifically, but the whole of it very much works for me (and in a way that shows like this generally don't). Now that the show has started actively developing Rei's character and moving forward with him, it's become genuinely thrilling and suspenseful.

Very good:

  • Sound! Euphonium second season: I want to love this more than I do, but in the end it doesn't feel either necessary or vitally important to see these additional stories about the cast. They're very nice stories, make no mistake, and generally quite affecting, and they add depth to several characters. The last episode is beautiful and touching. But the second season never felt on fire to me in the way that the first season's overarching story about competition did.

    (My views are undoubtedly influenced here because the show spent an entire episode on Reina's stupid crush on Taki-sense, which could have been great if it had been about her renouncing said crush but it turned out that it wasn't. I do not like that crush, and do not want the show to spend time paying attention to it, and I am a bit disgruntled here.)

Good:

  • BBK/BRNK: The show didn't do anything deeply surprising in its overall plot and climax; it is the genre story it appears to be. But it gave us a fun ride on the way there, with plenty of nice moments and good action sequences (and a certain amount of more or less expected cheese and hand waving explanations). The final episode was an interesting coda, especially in light of some things Guy said in the second-last episode, but I suspect that some of the things I could read into it weren't intended by the creators.

Popcorn entertainment:

  • Brave Witches: This delivered the popcorn entertainment that I wanted and very little more.

  • Long Riders: I watched parts of this for the biking. The show loved biking and I like biking too, so I enjoyed those bits. The other parts of the show were nothing special and I mostly skipped them.

    (Long Riders is technically not over yet; production issues mean that the final two episodes have been delayed until February.)

Towards the end of the season I got around to checking out some other shows, none of which really clicked with me.

  • Vivid Strike: This is a perfectly decent 'fighting girls' show that sometimes annoys me by teasing its connection to the much more interesting Nanoha franchise that is just offscreen. It's a perfectly acceptable and inoffensive thing to watch, but I don't feel the need to see any more of it at the moment.

  • Nobunaga no Shinobi: I checked out two episodes of this short for reasons beyond the scope of this entry and they were okay children's fare but not particularly compelling.

  • Fune wo Amu aka The Great Passage: This is a perfectly good and perhaps great adult drama that I don't really feel any attraction to (cf). This is what I always expected but I felt like confirming that. So it goes.

Although the season felt a little bit lacking in how many shows I was interest in watching (as shown by how I wound up looking at Long Riders and others), the highs were excellent. Flip Flappers and March comes in like a Lion are both amazing shows, and Sound! Euphonium's second season is perfectly good in that KyoAni high quality way (and many people really loved it much more than I did).

Fall2016Retrospective written at 18:58:40; Add Comment

2017-01-15

My (Twitter) reactions to the first episodes of the Winter 2017 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).

  • Akiba's Trip episode 1: That was decent, even sometimes good, which is well above what I expected. It has spark for an action genre show.

  • Schoolgirl Strikers episode 1: That was a perfectly okay but uninspiring. It could fill the Brave Witches popcorn watch niche this season.

  • Blue Exorcist Kyoto Saga ep 1: I don't think this was particularly good or compelling by itself, & it feels like characters got reset on me.

  • Chain Chronicle episode 1: Perfectly competent with decent action, but I found it flat and uncompelling. Nothing made me want to keep going.

  • Little Witch Academia ep 1: It's not the OVAs but it's solid, well done, and more relaxed; there's more time for development & fun here.

  • ACCA episode 1 was a good stylish start & had a number of interesting characters, but it didn't tell us much about where the show is going.

  • KonoSuba S2 episode 1: The best part of the episode was the little mini-adventure in the ED. Otherwise it was all Kazuma-focused setup.

  • Dragon Maid ep 1: That was quality work; nicely understated and nicely done, and fun all the way through even when it wasn't being funny.

  • Interviews with Monster Girls episode 1 was cute and nice, but I'm not sure it has staying power for me (it wasn't particularly funny).

This covers the first episode of everything that seems reasonably promising for me. It's possible I'll look at Gabriel DropOut at some point, but it doesn't seem like my kind of thing despite its supernatural-tinged premise.

(From all reports, Minami Kamakura High School Girls Cycling Club simply doesn't have enough biking in it to attract me the way Long Riders did. Apparently the most interesting biking thing is how they're using real brands this time, instead of the usual changed-just-enough brand names and so on.)

Winter2017FirstEpisodes written at 02:44:18; Add Comment

(Previous 10 or go back to December 2016 at 2016/12/31)

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