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Hey Spitz, What’ve You Been Watching? March 2016

April 6, 2016

 (This article is spoiler-free.)

おっす。 Please excuse the delayed post.
The Spring anime season is underway, and I have seen the dismaying of some fans with the coming of White Fox’s adaptation of light novel series Re:Zero that it is “yet another stranger in a strange land series”, pointing out its lack of creativity in plot concept.
I agree to an extent. Fresh ideas are always more welcome than “rehashes” of old ones, but dismissing outright any story for sporting concepts seen in others is an unfortunate thing to do.
Anime is a natural hotbed for this. The majority of series run at around 12 episodes in length, which means there are a ton of them. It’s natural for the same ideas to crop up in many series, be those ideas plot related, or character traits, and it can be a good test of a series’ creator’s mettle to make something memorable out of well-known concepts.
Trends change over time, so don’t dismay. The things you may feel have been sorely overdone recently may bring you nostalgia years down the road, when those things are no longer seen in popular media. It’s easier said than done, but try to make the best of it.
The arrival of the new means the farewell to old. here is what I finished:

 

76932l Boku Dake ga Inai Machi (Erased)-
Manga artist Fujinuma Satoru has a unique gift.
When tragedy strikes, he finds himself thrown minutes into the past, enabling him to find the cause and prevent the tragedy from taking place.
When he is directly impacted by tragedy however, he finds himself transported into his childhood days.
Is there a link between the tragedies which befell several of his schoolmates and that which occurred 18 years in the future, and will Satoru, now a child, be capable of preventing them?

What I thought- “Truly outstanding.”
I wouldn’t say time travel stories are necessarily my favorite thing in the world, but I always seem to enjoy them. I’d like to think we all wish we could go back in time to change unfortunate things that have happened in the past, right?
And there’s a great amount of creativity in not only the plot delivery in Erased, but also the production, with clever things done on the meta-layer even, to reinforce aspects of the story-telling.
The visual style is great, with more simple characters over detailed backgrounds, and the depiction of animated violence in this series is not shied away from, which leads to numerous scenes that were painful to watch.
Not to diminish the enjoyment I had watching the other shows I picked up this season, but Boku Dake ga Inai Machi was a master class in presenting its narrative.
If you are a viewer of anime, series like this are why you’re here, and if you aren’t, then this is what you are missing out on.

 

zgRKxNOzWM8 Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm-
Thanks to the development of gravity-defying shoes dubbed Grav-Shoes, humanity has seen joy in soaring through the skies amongst the birds.
Due to this new capability, lifestyles have changed, and new activities have been created.
One such activity is the sport of Flying Circus, in which two individuals, aided by Grav-Shoes, compete for points earned by tagging one another, or reaching buoys suspended in midair before their opponent.
New to both Flying Circus and simply… flying, Kurashina Asuka is a bright young woman seeing to make new friends and create wonderful memories through competition.

What I thought- “Great characters, lame sport.”
I’m a little torn about this series.
There is a lot to enjoy here, with bright, entertaining personalities telling its story, and equally colorful and pleasing to look at environments. The soundtrack is fantastic, and the idea of humans gaining the ability of flight through technology is a joy to think about. There is a glaring problem with this series though, and it unfortunately drags the rest down with it to a degree.
The sport of Flying Circus is lame.
While there are triumphant moments to be had within these FC matches, the rules of the sport are incredibly boring. Having specific styles of play doesn’t amount to much in a one on one sport, and each match plays out in pretty much the same way. The usage of CG character art allows for a good sense of speed, but becomes jarring to see, as CG always does, when the scene repeatedly shifts between CG characters and 2d ones.
Despite the sport which this series focuses on though, I did enjoy this series. Would it have been produced by a less capable group, I expect it would have been much more forgettable.
Flying Circus is boring, but the characters and production of Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm make it a reasonably worthwhile watch regardless.

 

77841l Mahou Shoujo Nante Mou Ii Desukara-
One day while walking past a heap of trash on the side of the road, Hanami Yuzuka hears a rustling whimper.
The small voice permeating from the pile of trash belongs to a strange bird-like creature named Miton, who after being “rescued”, promptly persuades Yuzuka to become a magical girl.
Unfortunately for her, however, she finds the outfit produced through her transformation, a lacy pink swimsuit, to be much too embarrassing to be seen in.

What I thought- “Bright and cute, but not much else.”
I’m in a weird spot with my feelings for this series. The silly tone is great, and the art style is wonderfully bright. The characters’ off-handed treatment of Miton the familiar was endlessly entertaining as well.
But nothing really happens in this series.
Much of that can be pinned on the fact that Nante is a series of short episodes, so there isn’t much wiggle room for plot development. It makes me wish this series were full length, but would a full length version of this story be as aimless as this one was?
I’m an easy target for slice of life comedy and bright art, so I did enjoy this series quite a bit while it lasted, but man… I can’t remember half of what happened in it.
Only fans of magical girl and slice of life comedy series short on time need apply here. Mahou Shoujo Nante Mou Ii Desukara is bright and occasionally funny, but doesn’t offer much in the grand scheme of things.

 

180438 Musaigen no Phantom World-
An attack on a research facility unleashes a virus on the human populace which enables mankind to see phantoms walking among them.
While this sounds like a big deal, humanity is able to continue on with their lives largely unaffected, save for having to deal with an especially uncooperative phantom here or there.
When phantoms get out of hand, humans with the ability to combat and seal them away are thrown into action, and Ichijou Haruhiko, along with a few new acquaintances, and the free spirited phantom at his side, seek to show these phantoms their place.

What I thought- “Beautiful and enjoyable, but lacking in plot.”
Continuing the trend of series that are wonderful to look at, and sport entertaining characters (Ruru especially) but lack the plot to keep you invested, Phantom World is what at this point you may consider the typical KyoAni production: It’s lovingly produced, but lacks the plot to hold your attention.
All it would have taken was for this series to have a reasonably well-done through line.
What’s there is a sort of monster-of-the-week structure, with Haruhiko and friends encountering a fresh subplot and often battling a new phantom each episode, with only the last two in the series attempting to take time to produce emotions in the viewer.
I wanted (and still want) to love this series, but it lacks the most important thing for me personally: a decent story.

 

ojisan-marshmallow-anime Ojisan to Marshmallow-
Hige Habahiro is a office worker with a big gut and an even bigger love for marshmallows.
Coworker of Hige, Wakabayashi Iori has an inscrutable desire for Hige’s affection, and will use his love for marshmallows as much as she can to further their relationship.
Will Hige’s nonchalant nature towards Wakabayashi-kun deny her her dreams?
Might there be a competing love-interest in her midst?
Is she simply in over her head?
Emotions will soar and marshmallows will fly (into mouths) in this series of slice of life comedy shorts.

What I thought- “Short and entertaining.”
It was great hearing Hanazawa Kana voice a character again after a little while of her absence. Was getting worried there.
Slice of life shorts! There isn’t a ton that can be said about Ojisan to Marshmallow, save for that it succeeds in its attempts at comedy. The antics of Wakabayashi to try and swoon Hige-san over were all great, as well as the small character moments involving the main and supporting characters surrounding them.
Each episode will only ask for you a few minutes of your time, and will likely produce more than one chuckle in that time.
If you’re into romantic slice of life comedy series, you can’t go wrong with Ojisan to Marshmallow.

 

tumblr_o3ac4n4U421usll9do1_500 Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko: Everything Flows-
A somewhat old and somewhat chubby black cat named Daru recounts his past experiences with his master, a young woman, and spends his time in her absence each day thinking on the world around them.

What I thought- “Saying a lot through being quiet.”
There is a great poetic quality to Shinkai Makoto’s work which I’m pleased to report shows through with this series of shorts. “Artistic” wouldn’t do it justice in that I consider “artistic” writing to often appear to be up its own behind to a degree. That is not a sense I get here at all.
The narrative is delivered with beauty and elegance while remaining down to earth. There is a sorrowful tone to it, but at the same time a sense of belonging and hopefulness nestled in there as well.
Whether the characters are developed or their narratives are interesting lies supplementary to the tone in a way. It’s difficult to describe, but I suppose I’d say it’s a series in which nothing much happens, but you get a lot out of it.
Also, Hanazawa Kana.
Leisurely and solemn, Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko: Everything Flows manages to produce emotions through writing and delivery despite its somewhat sparse plot.

 

nurse_witch_komugi-chan_r_5011 Nurse Witch Komugi-chan R-
Feeling a little sore? Are your spirits undesirably low?
Well fear not, fellow traveler of this obnoxiously-sized blue orb called Earth! Yoshida Komugi is here to spread the cheer, and she is bringing her idol friends along for the ride!
While the idol life can be tough as it is, the appearance of three small creatures brings the grace and destructive power of magic into the lives of our three heroes. Unbeknownst to one another, they each accept the plea of their familiars, and a new magical girl story unfolds.
Will their transformed personalities clash with one another? Will they each seek their own ends, and will the idol world fall victim to the untold power of these mysterious magical girls?

What I thought- “Let’s Komugi-cation!”
Upon starting this series, I had the feeling that it would play out as a sort of generic idol/magical girl hybrid, because the character designs weren’t all that special, and the production, even early on, while perfectly competent in all other areas, utilized CG for its character art in the more difficult scenes.
Reinforcing the notion that the best practice is to stick with a series to be sure however, I came out of Komugi R having looked forward to new episodes each week, as the individual character subplots made the series much more entertaining than originally expected from it.
They “get it” when it comes to the comedy in this series, leading to a number of laugh out loud moments, and while the combat sequences (if you’d call them that) were nothing to write home about, the characters were compelling, with Kisaragi Tsukasa completely stealing the show as far as I’m concerned.
The surprise hit of the Winter season, Nurse Witch Komugi-chan R might make a rough first impression, but stick with it, and it’ll prove itself as a perfectly capable comedic drama series.

 

337bc6733e151a200e5bb6529d1938231452195113_full Yamishibai Season 3-
A cute voice in a public bathhouse.
A dark, seemingly endless tunnel.
A pitch-black tangled mass in the pool at night.
These are but three of the mortifying short tales you will encounter in this third season of Yamishibai.

What I thought- “Oh Yamishibai… Yamishibai…”
That first season was great. I promise.
With this third season, they appear to have discarded any attempts at producing an effective horror series, and instead seem to be going for a funhouse vibe.
The short anthology narratives found in each episode focus on a different creepy creature, and the unfortunate individual(s) who fall prey to it.
My issue with this series is the same I had with the second season of Yamishibai, which is it isn’t scary or disturbing or exciting. Some episodes genuinely felt like they were trying to make the viewer laugh even, which is fine if that’s the series they’re trying to make, but the tone is so straight-faced that it’s difficult to see that.
One day, hopefully, this series will return to what made the first season so great. Until then, there isn’t much to recommend here.
The spookiest thing about Yamishibai’s third season is having the assumption that you will come out of each episode with anything more than a disappointed sigh.

 

77832l Ooya-san wa Shishunki!-
Maeda-san has finally broke out on his own, and moved into his own room in an apartment complex.
It’s a great time to be alive! In fact, the only thing he could imagine that could make his new life on his own more exciting would be if his landlord were a cute gir- Whaaaaaaaat?!
Ooya-san wa Shishunki! is a series of slice of life shorts involving Maeda-san and his coming to terms with living in an abode operated by the bright, though sometimes absent-headed Satonaka Chie.

What I thought- “Bright, cute and pointless.”
I’ll add this series to the list of “Anime Series I Wish Were Longer And More Memorable Than They Are”.
The production of this series is wonderful, with numerous well-designed characters, a bright, lovable tone and a catchy OP to match, but even among series of shorts, the goings-ons of the characters found in this series were tremendously forgettable.
I would be all for a second season, especially if they pulled a Yama no Susume and managed to get a budget for longer episodes.
Ooya-san wa Shishunki!’s bright tone and cute characters come across perfectly, but the short run time and lack of interesting plot situations leaves much to be desired.

 

ab21e2b37d995124ea4a77f51f81becc1436371805_full Himouto! Umaru-chan-
We all know that person.
They get along with everyone, and everyone has such high opinions of them.
But we know it’s all a lie. We know.
Doma Taihei knows one such person, and she just happens to be his little sister!
Within the walls of their apartment, the elegant, dutiful and smart Doma Umaru’s personality changes to that of an insufferably lazy and selfish child.
How long will Umaru’s dual lifestyles last?

What I thought- “A simple idea taken to absurd extremes.”
If there is one complaint I could voice about this series, it would be that it can come off as somewhat one-note.
Once you understand the nature of Umaru’s character, you can somewhat predict where the plot of an episode might go before it gets there.
While that can be damning, it goes to show how wonderful a job the production team at Doga Kobo as well as the voice talent for Umaru and friends have done at delivering the comedy in each scene. What could have been repetitive is saved by over-the-top animation and voice work, which sells this series in areas in which it might have otherwise faltered. Watching the gears in Umaru’s head turn as she devises new strategies to twist Taihei to her whims never got old, and while I could have used more screen time from some of the supporting characters, what’s there is enough to make them memorable.
A slice of life comedy series with a twist, Himouto! Umaru-chan delivers on its comedy from a sometimes cute, sometimes crassly manipulative perspective.

 

55ecf51b178a37a97566660983bbc2091444251583_full Fushigi na Somera-chan-
Be you an individual of high or low stature; have you full or empty pockets; few or many aspirations, you have no doubt felt the inexplicable tug of dread which life inevitably places upon us all.
Nonomoto Somera and her sister Kukuru are one such pair to have felt the unkind grip of despair.
But fear not!
There is hope!
For so long as they have one another, there is still a reason for existence.
For so long as their friends and their love for menoussoue stays their despair, they are unbeatable in the eyes of adversity.
This is their story. This is Fushigi na Somera-chan.

What I thought-  “Unadulterated absurdness.”
I still find it strange that I never wrote about this series after it had finished airing quite awhile back now, given how absurd and offbeat its comedy is. Having watched through it again, there were things I had forgotten, but it mostly all came back. Mostly.
After watching Ai Mai Mii last month, the relation between the two series is very clear, with its scrappy art and its hardly-trying animation style, though I think I may enjoy Somera-chan more for its characters and its (even more) otherworldly content. Each episode is short, to the point, and really quite bonkers.
If you’re into non-sequitur comedy or have a thing for menoussoue worship, then boy oh boy is Fushigi na Somera-chan for you.

 

The Winter anime season did not disappoint. There were no series I picked up which I had difficulty keeping up with due to lack of interest, and while there weren’t an overwhelming number of truly memorable series in there, Boku Dake ga Inai Machi spearheaded it as more than worth the time.
The new Soapbox feature is still up in the air as far as whether it’ll happen or when. I’m waiting for the right combination of time and motivation.
The Spring series has started, and while it’s still tough to judge what the shows of the season will be, after its first episode filled with an uncomfortable tone, Mayoiga has my curiosity piqued.
(This month last year.)
(Keep your stories unspoiled. For me. For humanity.)
次回までね。

From → Anime

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