Here we go again, another new season, another lineup of 18 series! I struggled to narrow things down this time, there were a lot of flawed but potentially quite interesting first episodes on offer, but not even I can pick up everything.
As usual I’ll be starting with the newly-aired and non-sequel shows. Feel free to comment saying what you’ve picked up yourself, what you think I should have picked up but didn’t, or anything else relating to the Winter season. 🙂
3 – Active Raid ep 1
5 – GATE S2 ep 1
8 – Dimension W ep 1
11 – Haikyuu!! S2 ep 14
12 – Osomatsu-san ep 14
14 – Norn9 ep 1
17 – Haruta & Chika ep 1
18 – Bubuki Buranki ep 1
Haruta & Chika was the first thing I picked up this season, and as is usually the case it may have benefited from its early airdate. At the start of a season, before I know how good or bad the competition is going to be, I’ll jump on anything with a sliver of potential. This series suffers from focusing on a brass band club so soon after Hibike! Euphonium, and I do wonder how they’re going to keep the whole mystery solving thing going without it feeling forced, but the humor and the characters won me over! Their personalities, that is – the character designs aren’t the prettiest!
Next up was noitaminA series Boku dake ga Inai Machi, which didn’t disappoint. Decent animation, interesting premise, and soundtrack by Kajiura Yuki, what’s not to like? 😀 Well, the pacing was a bit too fast for my liking, but apparently it’s adapting all 7+ volumes of the manga from start to finish in just 12 episodes, so that’s probably unavoidable. It’ll be interesting to see how Satoru goes about solving the kidnappings and murders with his adult mind trapped in child’s body, presumably there’ll be a lot of trial and error if he can keep using Revival? No doubt improving his own life and realizing his dream will become some kind of side effect.
I seem to have liked Active Raid far more than everybody else, seeing as it’s currently the lowest ranked on Anime-Planet on average out of everything I picked up, yet there it is in my Top 5 beating Boku dake ga Inai Machi. I found it glorious! The premise was nothing new, but it was executed to near perfection with non-stop action and plenty of humour. I liked the female lead that annoyed so many other viewers, as well as the transformation/mech fusing scene (I don’t mind that they re-used it, meant I got to marvel at it all over again)! My hype will probably wear off eventually, as it was more style than substance, but I won’t mind if the series proves me wrong there!
Norn9 was highly enjoyable, but it was mostly for shallow reasons (pretty characters, animation and good music). Aside from looks the characters were quite boring though, hopefully that’ll change as they’re further developed The setting is certainly intriguing enough, with its stylish sky ship full of people with a diverse range of special powers… will these be used for peace, or will they end up as enemies eventually as Senri seems to believe is inevitable? I look forward to finding out!
Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu was just brilliant from beginning to end, and is my favourite all-new series of the season (losing to Durarara!! with its multiple series worth of back story and character development is no disgrace). The fact it was double-length may have given it some advantage, but I was already sold by the midway point with ‘Yotarou’s Dekigokoro skit. I didn’t expect to laugh as much as I did, hopefully we’ll get to see at least a few more of these stories all the way through. Really interesting characters, a little mystery, lovely animation and music, and superb voice acting.
At the opposite end of the spectrum we have Bubuki Buranki – I’m taking a risk here, as the first episode was very fast-paced, and we were given very little idea of what’s going on. I personally was also struggling to keep track of what ‘bubuki’, ‘buranki’, ‘orbu’ and other terms referred to, hopefully that won’t be a problem for long, assuming all the world-introduction and exposition that was missing from this ep has yet to come. The 3D animation was good on the whole, though it relied on speed-lines here and there. Characters and their weapons (I think those were the bubuki?) were cool. Another victory for style over substance perhaps.
The first ep of Dimension W was solid – nice to see an older protagonist who isn’t in high school lead an action/sci-fi series for a change! The fun OP theme, diverse characters and very pretty animation made it stand out, and the plot is definitely of interest to me. The whole ‘unlimited energy from another dimension’ thing sounds too good to be true, I’m assuming it’ll all go horribly wrong at some point… the illegal coils already seem quite dangerous if they can turn a water pistol into a lethal weapon! Definitely looking forward to more of this.
Slightly behind it is Schwarzesmarken – I’m aware it’s a spin-off of Muv-Luv Alternative, so not ‘all-new’ as such, but the cast and setting are completely different, and I needed something to round things up to an even number. 😛 The first ep was good, none of the dubious CGI (or polka-dot head censorship!) of earlier Lidenfilms anime, hopefully that quality will hold up. This time around, the characters also have to fear their fellow humans as well as the BETA, thanks to the East German Stasi keeping people under strict control. This setting helps make what would otherwise be just a generic ‘humans vs aliens’ mech show far more original, and of more interest to me.
Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm debuts in the red; despite the interesting premise and nice animation, it couldn’t completely shake the ‘eroge adaptation’ look, feel and tropes. They’ve put a lot of thought into the grav-shoes though, stuff like their rules of use and in-built safety measures, little details that I liked. I was a bit disappointed that the ‘Flying Circus’ sport wasn’t more flashy, didn’t really live up to its name there, but it was still fun to watch. Character interactions weren’t anything special, but I quickly warmed to hyper-idiot transfer student Kurashina. So a lot of good, but a lot of average as well at this point.
Another series that’s not overly original is Shoujo-tachi wa Kouya wo Mezasu – I actually dropped it at first for this reason, but with no subs available for Reikenzan, and Ajin airing too late for my patience to handle, I gave it a reprieve. To be fair, the first episode was genuinely good fun, enough to escape the red. Starting with yuri is always a plus, even it it was just a play. 😛 Watching the characters left me exhausted though, they have so much energy! Not the prettiest animation, but hopefully the comedy and dialogue will continue to make up for its flaws.
So that’s my lineup, until the mid-season at least. Let me know what you think!