Brief early impressions of the Winter 2016 anime season so far

January 24, 2016

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 these shows. Somewhat surprisingly, I didn't try out anything this season that was an outright miss; I'm not sure if this is because I'm getting better at avoiding loser shows or that I'm getting less willing to try things.

Clear winners:

  • ERASED aka Boku Dake ga Inai Machi: This is basically doing everything right as a suspense show. It's interesting, compelling, well put together, and has been at points both genuinely unpleasant and genuinely beautiful. At times it's so successful as a show that it's hard to watch due to the tension and power.

  • Dimension W: So far this is a well done adventure/action show featuring adult characters for once, instead of the usual collection of teens. That puts it firmly in the axis of shows like Cowboy Bebop and Darker Than Black, although it's so far not as good as either of them. The show is moving along at a very good pace; we got a big reveal about the situation in the second episode, for example.

  • Akagami no Shirayukihime: This is back and so far pretty much the same as before, except that this time we seem to have an ongoing multi-episode plot. I'm fine with that, since it adds some additional interest and involvement to the whole thing.

I'm enjoying:

  • BBK/BRNK aka Bubuki Buranki: I'm quite enjoying this for what it is, which is a (so far) uncomplicated shonen action story. It's well put together and moving right along, although it could yet slow down. Your tolerance for this will depend both on your interest in its fundamental genre (since it's not doing anything special there) and in your tolerance for CG characters. They don't bother me at all, but some people really hate them.

  • Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash: This is a realism-inclined take on the whole 'people wind up in a fantasy world', where our protagonists are low level spuds who are not exactly having a good time. They are (not) enjoying it about as much as you'd expect, and the second episode was fairly blunt about this. The show is beautiful and well put together, with generally interesting characters, but it's not perfect; there was an jarringly unpleasant bit of extended 'fanservice' in the first episode, for example.

    So far I'm enjoying Grimgar on the whole but I'm concerned about where it's going to go. I am probably not going to enjoy an entire season of grinding brutality, for example, however realistic a depiction it is of people operating under those stresses and how they deal (or don't deal) with them. At the same time I don't see where else Grimgar can go with the setup so far; it would be equally jarring if it turned into something pleasant where the protagonists went on pretty high fantasy adventures.

  • Active Raid: This is so far a generally enjoyable action show with some interesting things, but it's also periodically slid into some less enjoyable bits that I would preferred to live without, some of which show rather questionable judgement (like the fanservice at the start of the second episode). It's also got a bit more than its share of not so much cliched as troped characters. To the extent that the show has staked out where it's going, it's deeply silly; it features crazy supervillain hackers of questionable taste. But I'm willing to keep watching for now.

    (I called the show not as smart as it thinks it is, and I stand by that.)

It's okay for now:

  • Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!: This is reasonably funny so far (which is rare for me), partly because it's willing to be subtle. I'm not sure if the show's premise can sustain enough humour and interest to keep me watching all season, though.

I'm still watching:

  • Myriad Colors Phantom World aka Musaigen no Phantom World: Oh KyoAni, how you've come down in the world this time around. There are a few interesting things here but they are mostly drowned by the combined slather of your typical low-quality LN writing and KyoAni's inability to do good fight scenes (I wrote an entire rant about part of that).

  • Koukaku no Pandora: This is written by Koshi Rikudo, the creator of Excel Saga, but unfortunately it lacks the latter's manic energy and thus much of its charm. It's okay and periodically funny, but it's not really 'good' as such.

    (The first episode actually did have that manic energy, but things slowed down after that.)

  • Luck & Logic: It's yet another action shonen LN-based show and as a result it's going just as you expect and is just about as cliched as you'd expect, with periodic injections of stupid and annoying things. It has mostly not been actively bad so far, just bland. I think it managed to be funny once.

    (Watching this makes it clear just how much of a standout last season's Asterisk was.)

The only reason I'm still watching all three of these shows is that they're right there and I'm apparently kind of bored this season. If I was sensible I would drop them and use my time to watch better things from my copious backlog. In a stronger season they might all be misses on the grounds that they're too boring (as opposed to misses on the grounds that they're bad).

Not for me:

Not considered for various reasons:

  • Lupin III (2015): I bounced off the first episode after a few minutes and haven't tried it again, partly because I've heard that the actual content is not too compelling.

  • Ajin: There was no way to watch this until very recently, and apparently it's a horror show anyways. Horror is not my thing.

  • GATE second season: Apparently I can learn from experience, because I thought back to my generally unenthused reaction to the first season and decided not to continue it.

  • Schwarzes Marken: Since this is part of the whole Muv-Luv Alternate setting, allow me to burst out in laughter. It's by all accounts terrible on top of that.

There's a bunch of LN-based action shows and romance shows and so on that I'm just skipping completely based on the premise and initial writeups alone. The ANN preview guide was very helpful, or to be more exact Nick Creamer's reviews specifically; he suffers so that we don't have to.

So far this is a reasonably solid season, although perhaps not a deep one; I can see situations where I wind up watching only four or five currently airing shows.

(Utawarerumono - Itsuwari no Kamen is still alternating between derping along and attempts at serious deep drama that it hasn't really earned; the latter come off as somewhat over the top and ridiculous.)

Written on 24 January 2016.
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Last modified: Sun Jan 24 19:48:18 2016
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