Brief early impressions of the Fall 2015 anime season so far
As before it's time for another set of my early impressions, this time supplementing my first episode takes after I've watched some more of the shows I'm actually following.
- Subete ga F ni Naru - The Perfect Insider: This is still not really
showing its cards, but on the other hand I love how the characters
interact. It's a grown up show with flawed characters who are too
smart and too smug for their own good.
- Concrete Revolutio: It's now clear that the show's big theme is the
moral ambiguity of super-powers (and how attempts to see the situation
as black and white are a terrible mistake). On the one hand, this
is nothing new to readers of American superhero comics over the past
couple of decades (from roughly Watchmen onward); on the other hand,
Concrete Revolutio is a good show and I'm enjoying it even if I don't
expect it to have anything much new to say. I really like that the show
is aggressively not spelling things out and letting us draw our own
conclusions; it favorably reminds me of UN-GO.
(The creators have apparently explicitly said that they were inspired in part by Watchmen.)
- One-Punch Man: Anime comedies that I find genuinely funny are rare, so I treasure them when one shows up. One of the things that makes OPM work for me is that the show generally doesn't overplay its jokes by having the characters actually react to them.
- K - Return of Kings: In the end I quite liked the first series. It's
great to see all of our old friends back and the changes are nice, but
at the same time I wish the show was moving faster and being crazier
the way the first season was.
- Utawarerumono - Itsuwari no Kamen: I haven't watched the original
series (my notes say I dropped it after 3 episodes), but fortunately
you don't have to in order to enjoy this new one. While it took a
few episodes to get me genuinely enthused about this, I'm now rather
enjoying how the characters rub against each other. Kuon and Haku are
an especially nice combination.
- Gakusen Toshi Asterisk: At one level this is a standard LN show
of the 'people fighting in high school' sub-genre and there's nothing
particularly new or novel. What I'm enjoying is the execution, which
I find refreshingly competent and well done. It has energy and a
refreshing lack of annoying or outright offensive (to me) cliches.
- Owarimonogatari: At this point I'm too invested in following the
Monogatari series to have a really objective opinion on this; the odds
that I wouldn't watch this despite grumbling about it were always
close to nil. In general it's enjoyable as usual, and it's nice to
see Araragi repeatedly shoved off balance. But boy I wish it'd move
faster; as things stand it feels like the show is deliberately filling
time with rambling dialog.
(Honestly, Perfect Insider is basically doing the Monogatari dialog thing much better than Owarimonogatari itself.)
They're okay so far:
- Mobile Suit Gundam - Iron-Blooded Orphans: This is a Gundam show
so I'm kind of predisposed to not be deeply enthused.
With that said, it's a pretty good example of its genre and it may yet
get me fired up with solid enthusiasm. I'm certainly enjoying it more
than I expected so far and I rather like a number of the things it's
doing, even if I know that most of the cast is probably doomed and it
sometimes does characterization with a large paint roller.
- Heavy Object: This is another typical LN show, this time of the 'how
will the protagonists manage to pull this one off' fighting genre.
It's not great
and it's definitely quite LN, but I've been enjoying it in a casual
popcorn way. I'll probably drop this after a while.
(If you're going to watch Heavy Object, you absolutely can't think very much about the logic of what you're seeing. HO is full of things that happen because this is a LN, not because they actually make any sense.)
- Noragami Aragoto: In retrospect the only Noragami character I
really care about is Hiyori, whose fundamental role is to be a
bystander. Yato is an irritating putz most of the time (his alleged
charm points mostly aren't), Yukine's continued suffering and angst
leaves me unmoved, and the show's never given me a reason to care
about Bishamon. Once I realized all of this I decided that show wasn't
compelling enough for me to bother continuing this season, not when
there was already a fair amount of stuff that I liked a lot more.
(Yes, this walks back my opinion from the end of the first season.)
- Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru aka Beautiful
Bones: This was not bad as such, it was just uninteresting. I've
already read a lot of mystery stories, most of them much more
interesting than this show, and there's plenty more out there if I
feel like I want more in the genre, plus I'm pretty sure that there's
better mystery anime out there that I haven't watched yet.
- Comet Lucifer: Another show that turned out to be uninteresting.
I gave it two episodes and it gave me no particularly compelling
reason to watch anything more.
- Garo - The Crimson Moon: The first episode of this had basically
none of the things that made the first Garo interesting and unusual,
and a certain amount that made me sigh (like the 'funny' kid sidekick).
- Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry: As many people have said, this is basically
the same show as Asterisk in many ways. But at least for me this is
generic and not particularly good in a way that Asterisk isn't.
I kept watching it to have an informed opinion in the debate between
partisans of the two shows, but then I flamed out at episode 3, which I
(I very rarely abandon episodes partway through watching them. This was an exception.)
One of the big debates this season is between Asterisk and Rakudai; in many ways the two are almost the same show but many people have strong preferences. As you can tell I come down on the side of Asterisk. To condense my views, I think that Rakudai is doing some potentially interesting things with Stella and Ikki but it's otherwise loaded with terrible tropes and bad or merely clunky execution (like clumsy and eye-rolling writing). Asterisk isn't as potentially exciting but its execution is far better and more interesting (and far less cringe-inducing), and I don't trust Rakudai to deliver on its potential anyways.
(And Asterisk has its own vaguely novel bits.)
The really short way to summarize this is that in theory Rakudai has more potential but in practice Asterisk has much better execution.
Not for me:
- Osomatsu-san: This combines a bunch of genres that almost never work for me, as it's both a comedy and an ordinary life setting. As a result I've opted to skip checking it out, even though it gets a fair bit of praise.
Not even considered for various reasons:
- Young Black Jack
- Anti-Magic Academy: The 35th Test Platoon: It's yet another LN show
like Asterisk and Rakudai, but apparently even worse than Rakudai.
- Lance 'n Masques: Apparently epically bad. Someone I follow on Twitter is watching this and tweeting the terrible art and shots, of which there are many.
The one show I haven't seen and would like to is the new Lupin, which appears to be basically unavailable over here. I've seen the opening, which is pretty cool.
This makes three shows I'm quite happy with so far and several other shows that I expect to watch all the way through, plus stuff that I'm enjoying so far but don't necessarily expect to have staying power. By my current metric of 'do I have enough things that I actually have to think about my APR ballot', this is a reasonably good season and it may become an excellent one. Heck, Iron-Blooded Orphans could surprise me and earn a place alongside my favorite Gundam works.
(Right now, how excellent the season turns out to be depends on how well Perfect Insider and Concrete Revolutio hold up. Both are very early so far so they could both fumble things, or they could really come through.)
Written on 28 October 2015.