It’s finally here, Week 1 episode rankings for Winter 2017! I use the term ‘week’ loosely here – Iron-Blooded Orphans’ 13th episode aired on Christmas day, while 3-gatsu no Lion’s was only yesterday evening. But it was that or leave a gap, and I don’t like gaps. 😛 Hopefully now that the chaos of New Year is over, we can expect a more regular release schedule from here onwards.
As usual, I’ll be commenting on the all-new, non-sequel shows this week due to the sheer number of them, but if you want to know my thoughts on any of the sequels or continuing series, ask away in the comments!
12 – All Out!! ep 14
13 – ClassicaLoid ep 14
14 – Urara Meirochou ep 1
15 – Chaos;Child ep 1
17 – Onihei ep 1
Not quite #1, but best of the new lot is Little Witch Academia TV! Okay, there were two short movies/specials that came before this, but I only watched them a week ago, so it feels all-new to me! While those movies were enjoyable enough, they didn’t provide much in the way of character introduction – this episode finally delivered that, showing us how the very different Akko, Sucy and Lotte ended up friends to begin with. Looks like it’ll be a full re-telling though, judging by the fact Akko already received Chariot’s Shiny Rod in a different way than in the first movie… Very amusing, very good action scenes, a good start to the series.
We jump now to the bottom of the rankings, to Chain Chronicle: Haecceitas no Hikari, the only other new action/fantasy series on the list! It felt like I was watching the last episode, not the first, as the series opened right in the middle of a huge war. 😮 An alliance of humans, dwarves, ogres and more vs the evil forces of the Black King (that’s the level of creativity we’re dealing with here). However, our heroes lose. The titular Chain Chronicle, some sort of powerful book, is split in half, and a black fog descends on the world, killing crops and animals. Presumably the rest of the series will focus on the good guys’ attempts to regroup, find new allies and do better next time. Very little character development, and the world it’s set in isn’t gushing with originality… but wow, the action scenes looked fantastic. I’m picking this up to replace the similar Tales of Zestiria; given all the pacing issues that had, I might as well gamble on Chain Chronicle being better.
Comedy in my Top 5 isn’t unusual in Week 1, as it doesn’t take a lot of world building or character development to make me laugh. But will Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon hold its position in later weeks? Here we have a real world setting, and a hard-working, heavy drinking OL protagonist for a change, whose life suddenly takes a fantasy turn when a dragon storms into her home and pledges to be her maid. Despite not knowing what a maid does. Their interactions were fantastic; more than a hunt of shoujo-ai, though of an unusual kind involving blood sacrifices and washing clothes by mouth. As with most series of this kind, it looks like other dragons will soon start imposing on Kobayashi-san in the episodes to come, so hopefully the humour won’t become stale later.
Gabriel DropOut was as funny as I was expecting, given the staff and studio involved. Goody-two-shoes angel comes to Earth, discovers MMORPGs, and ends up a useless hikkikomori, casually cursing the same humans she spent her whole life training to help. Meanwhile, her demon acquaintances are lovely in comparison. The OTT characters and amusing reversal of stereotypes worked well in this first episode, but unlike Kobayashi-san, Gabriel DropOut went full steam ahead when it came to introducing its main cast, so could get repetitive if what we’ve seen now is the only gag the show has to offer.
Another comedy series – Urara Meirochou was the first Winter series I picked up, and I quite often end up regretting these early decisions… but while it didn’t end up making me laugh as much as the two shows above (let alone KonoSuba), it’s got the short, gag-comedy style I like from 4-koma manga and their anime adaptations, and the apprentice fortune-teller setting is refreshingly different. I love the characters already, especially the feral Chiya, whose method of apologizing by showing her belly almost got them all kicked out of the city! The production values are decent-enough, for a low-action comedy series. I can’t really fault it.
ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka was SLOW, but intriguing. The story basically focuses on an auditor, whose job it is to make sure this ACCA organisation (that controls everything including the police, medical and fire departments) is running efficiently and free of corruption in each of the kingdom’s 13 autonomous regions. Initially this investigation department was threatened with closure after almost a century of peace… could rumours of a coup-d’etat be the reason this decision was reversed? Animation was great, and the main character seems interesting (though no other characters have had much focus, yet). I like different, so I’ll give this a chance, but not the most thrilling of first episodes on its own.
Romance time! A genre that often doesn’t fare too well in these rankings. Masamune-kun no Revenge was your more standard romcom, but given its real-world setting and characters, it held up well against the more OTT comedy series on the list. The moment Aki was introduced, along with her way of turning down anyone who confesses to her (by investigating their backgrounds and giving them a cruel nickname related to that), I knew I’d like this. Masamune isn’t your usual useless lead character either, I like that he’s out for revenge and is likely to try just as cruel things to get back at her, even if they’ll inevitably end up falling for each other later. Kojuurou is just a bonus.
And then, Kuzu no Honkai. Romance, yes, but further away from comedy than anything else this season. Our main characters are two high school pupils, both who have unrequited feelings for teachers at their school. At first they become close due to their shared feelings, moping about it together… then one day, they decide to use each other as replacements for their true loves. They’re now dating, despite having literally no feelings for each other. This is certainly more interesting than your usual fluffy romance series, well-written and with potential to get very dark. Nicely animated, too. I’m curious to see where it’ll go, though I’m guessing it won’t be anywhere happy, for one if not both of them.
Onihei – a mature Edo-period samurai drama, a rare thing in anime. Shame it couldn’t look a bit nicer, M2 are a new studio and it shows, but it’s just so different to everything else that I’ve watched recently, so I’ll give it a chance anyway. Our main character is an interesting guy; as chief of the Arson Theft Control, he’s more than willing to use cruel torture methods to get his prisoners to talk (nails hammered through feet, molten candle wax etc), but has a kinder side to him as well, giving an ‘honourable’ thief a chance to make amends. A fairly generic storyline for this introductory episode, but hopefully it won’t be episodic throughout the series.
And finally, Chaos;Child. Okay, it’s a sequel, but the characters, staff and studio are all new! This double-length first episode was split into two halves – the first was simply a recap of Chaos;Head, rushed but greatly appreciated since its been a good 8-9 years. For that reason, I decided to judge this episode based on the second-half only, the start of Chaos;Child proper. Set 6 years afterwards in a rebuilt Shibuya, it seems the bizarre murders are happening again, on the same dates as the first lot. And EAURGH, they’re even more horrible than the ones from Chaos;Head. 😮 They chose to jump straight into having our main characters (members of a school newspaper club) investigate the murders, rather than properly introducing any of them, so I can’t say they’re the most interesting cast of the season. But though I could hardly watch at times due to the graphic nature, I do like a good mystery series, so I’ll give this a chance.