Checking in on the Winter 2016 anime season part way through

March 5, 2016

Once again it's time for a 'midway' (or much of the way through) update on my early impressions of the season. This one is kind of delayed, which is convenient because in the past week or so I've gotten more to talk about. Sadly it's in a bad way, as a couple of shows actively fumbled things and got me to drop them.


  • ERASED aka Boku Dake ga Inai Machi: This has been somewhat erratic, with some unfortunate dips in the middle as the show returned to the modern age and dropped into cliched thriller territory, but it's back to the past and its strengths. This has led me to the straightforward realization that where the show's strength and power is in its depiction of Satoru in the past; in retrospect, even the first episode's modern era work was not all that compelling. I hope that we stay in the past from now onward to the end of the show.

  • Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash: I did not expect this at all, but the show has turned into a great character piece; rather than being a fantasy adventure, it's become a drama. Our protagonists feel like fallible real people existing under fraught circumstances that put them under terrible pressure. It's not always pleasant to watch but it's often powerful, and while Grimgar has stumbled periodically its successes more than make up for that.

  • Akagami no Shirayukihime: The show has recently done some things that I didn't like but it came through in the end and has now returned to form. I continue to enjoy it a lot in a low key but affecting way. The show doesn't do high-key, capital D drama, but it does excellent low key drama that works very well, where we simply see people having quiet conversations with each other that show real feelings.


  • BBK/BRNK aka Bubuki Buranki: This has turned out to be better than I expected (there's a theme here). The plot remains relatively straightforward but the execution has been raising it up, and the show is doing some interesting things with its 3D CG (the characters are quite expressive, for example). We are probably not going to get anything deep in the end but it's solidly exciting and solidly well done in its genre.


  • Dimension W: In the end this just doesn't have the writing quality that it needs in order to really stand out. It's a decent implementation of its genre (and it's a genre we don't get too much of any more), so I'm enjoying it for that, but it's not much more than that and I've lowered my expectations as a result. I also believe that the show made a strategic mistake when it let coils basically cause anything. If the show did not have a collection of adults as its major characters, I might not still be watching it.

  • Active Raid: The show is pretty erratic. At its lows it's kind of boring; at its highs it's genuinely affecting with things to say about its underlying themes of adult life, getting the job done, and so on. I continue to feel that the presence of Logos and their plotting mostly brings the show down, and that it would be better if the show fully committed to its Patlabor style 'slice of police life with Willwears' take on things.

It's hard to score AR against DW. AR's high points are much better than DW, but on the other hand I feel that DW is more consistent and doesn't feature anything quite as irritating and jarring as Logos. If I had to pick only one to still watch, I would probably stay with AR after debating about it a lot.

I'm still watching:

  • Luck & Logic: The show is a perfectly competent execution of its fundamental genre, which is more or less 'LN teen action show' (yes, I know, it's not actually based on a LN). It doesn't have anything particularly spectacular there and it undershoots, say, Asterisk, but on the other hand it mostly doesn't fumble anything and the execution is competent. This leaves it as watchable but not particularly thrilling. To put it only somewhat unkindly, it passes the time while I have a cup of coffee.

  • Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!: Some of the comedy works for me but often a lot of it doesn't really. The show has had only one episode that fully held my attention while I watched it, which is okay because it's generally split up into a bunch of little sections. Darkness is and continues to be the worst character; she does very little besides bring things down when the show bangs on its one-note jokes with her.

    On the other hand, sometimes the show is great. I'm not going to forget shell-shocked Aqua refusing to come out of her shark cage any time soon, for example. And the cabbages. And so on and so forth. The show can be funny and fun, sometimes very much so. I guess that's what keeps me watching.


  • Utawarerumono - Itsuwari no Kamen: The show recently took a plot turn that was already questionable but could have led to affecting drama and turned it into an action show plot about characters that I have little interest in. Also, it's apparently time for the show to start killing people off for drama. The show was always on the edge, kept watchable by charming derping around, but that charming derping is mostly gone and I find that I have no interest in following along for the rest of the ride.

    (When the only reason I can think of to watch more is 'but I'm so close to the end', I need to stuff my completist nature in a closet and drop the show.)

  • Myriad Colors Phantom World aka Musaigen no Phantom World: This kind of fumbled along as a watchable and kind of entertaining show, and then episode 8 happened. Dropped.

    (Commentary I've seen on subsequent episodes suggests that I'm not missing anything. Even people who are fans seem down on it lately.)

  • Koukaku no Pandora: As I put it on Twitter, this show has neither enough animation nor enough energy. The first episode turned out to be an anomaly in an otherwise relatively flat and plain show.

Not for me:

  • Maho Girls Precure!: I gave this three episodes and while it's a perfectly good show with solid writing for its genre, there's basically nothing in it that hooks me and too much that quietly turns me off. The story beats are well crafted and perfectly competent, but you can also kind of see them coming from a mile off. This is (quite well) written for its target audience, and it shows. It's also a real magical girls show, complete with a basic enemy of the week, fight of the week, extended stock footage transformation scenes, and so on. It's charming, though; just not enough so to charm me.

    On a side note, I've periodically read praise of the whole Precure series as featuring good fights. All I can say to that is that in the first three episodes I was not particularly taken with the fights. This is probably not surprising, but it did come as kind of a letdown. Call it me coming into this with elevated expectations.

    (I may watch an episode or two more just because, but probably not.)

This is a pretty solid season for me. There's shows that are thrilling, shows that I actively look forwards to, and plenty of stuff to keep me entertained. I've been disappointed in a few shows, but that happens basically every season, and most of the letdown has been in shows that didn't start out strong in any case.

Comments on this page:

Go! Princess Precure aside, the early episodes of each Precure franchise tend NOT to have good fights, because the girls are all still scrubs. In contrast, take a look at the final three-ish episodes of Max Heart or Splash Star, or the first two All Stars DX movies.

By cks at 2016-03-06 19:19:08:

I think you can have good fights without the girls being more than scrubs; it's a matter of staging and animation and so on. Grimgar is a great example of this in my opinion; the early fights go terribly for the protagonists, who are very bad at it, but they are exciting to watch. Although I have have bad expectations, the Maho Girls Precure! fights just felt flat and straightforward and very stock magical girl show in a way.

(I'll have to watch some Precure movies at some point, since I've heard lots of praise for various ones.)

By Author at 2016-03-09 02:31:16:

I follow Galko and Dagashi, neither of which is mentioned.

By cks at 2016-03-09 10:35:07:

I tried out Dagashi Kashi at the start of the season and found that it wasn't for me (mentioned here). I didn't look at Galko-chan initially for various reasons, but I've since heard a bunch of praise for it (including from you) so I may try it out even though it's in a setting that doesn't usually work for me.

(In general I have an irrational blind spot where it comes to shorts; I almost never seriously consider them regardless of nominal setting, genre, and so on. This is a mistake given things like Galko-chan and Pupipo!.)

Written on 05 March 2016.
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