Winter 2016 First Impressions

Musaigen no Phantom WorldCan the winter of 2016 make up for the fall season 2015?

The fall season of 2015 was pretty bad. There weren’t series I was particularly excited about. One Punch man was a welcome addition to the season, but it lost its charm rather quickly after the first episode. Noragami feels a bit too niche for me. Sakurakou-san and Subete were good mystery anime but missed that flamboyant element to give it the extra touch and make it stand out. The narrative of both shows was a bit too sluggish and sometimes too conversation heavy, making it hard to follow at times.

Boku dake ga Inai MachiBoku dake ga Inai Machi is hands down, the best show of the season. No doubt. I’ve seen the anime community swirl around this show ever since its launch and for good reason. We follow Satoru who has the ability to reverse time and prevent terrible things from happening. One day he is thrown back even further, namely to his life as a grade-schooler.

boku dake ga inai machiThe going back in time mechanic is pretty common. We’ve seen it dozens of times and I don’t think this is the element that makes the show standout so much. It’s the fact that one of the main plot drivers is the murdered classmate of Satoru and his drive to solve this mystery to prevent it from happening, that really makes Boku dake ga Inai Machi stick with its audience. The visual design is great and the storytelling has just the right pace to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Musaigen no Phantom WorldKyoto Animation’s entry for the winter season seems to be a shallow one at first glance. The main focus of Musaigen no Phantom World were boobs during its first episode with some magic plot inserted to give the excessive boob-physics a reason to take part in the show.

Musaigen no Phantom World is rather vague at this point. I really don’t know what its trying to tell. Have magic beings always existed and just popped-up when humanity gained some mysterious ability to do so? If they were always there, why haven’t they attacked yet? This is going way too existentialist to answer those questions. I’ll just assume these story elements are there to give the absurdist boob-physics are reason to exist and to make it sell more copies.

HaruChicka Haruchicka seems like a spiritual spin-off of Hibike Euphonium, riding along the success the latter had. We follow Chika who wants to lose her boyish image by joining the music club while having a crush on the club supervisor and Haruta, the apparent shouta romance plot element, who also wants to look good for music sensei.

P.A. Works is really up and down with its productions the last couple of years. Frequent readers know I really enjoy works of this studio, but over recent times, exceptions are of course the case, P.A. Works seems to have lost some of its charm. Or I have a specific set of interests, for example Shirobako which was raved by the community, while I dropped out after a dozen episodes or so.

Haruchika has a kind of offbeat narrative and needs time for a buildup. It tries to blend in mystery, but it does a poor job at that. It wants to be K-ON, it wants to be romance, it wants to be mystery. Make up your mind, it’s not going anywhere at this point.

Dagashi KashiShikada’s father wants him to take over the rural candy shop when the day comes. One day Shikada meets candy obsessed girl, Shidare, who’s the daughter of the owner of the famous candy company with the same name. She tries to recruit Shikada for the firm as his father is a famous candy maker.

At first had my doubts about the show since Feel was the producing studio, but I actually really enjoy the setting of Dagashi Kashi. It has a light summer vibe that neatly fits itself into the slice of life genre. Still the touches of Feel are visible with the obvious fanservice, but it isn’t obtrusive like a show like To Love Dark would do. The storytelling can be a bit slow at times and make your mind wonder off, but that isn’t a bad thing in this case.

Hai to Gensou no Grimgar The Sword Art Online effect has not yet died out as many series have jumped on the alternative RPG-world bandwagon such as the latest installment Hai to Gensou no Grimgar, which very much reminds of Log Horizon and Sword Art Online.

Hai to Gensou no Grimgar is rather vague in its storytelling and I really dislike the poor taste of fan service in this series. It feels obnoxious and in your face. This show implies through its narrative that is has a complex, or at least compelling, background story. Still much of it is lost through wonky characters such as Ranta that are supposed to be some coming relief, but on the flipside distract the show from its wannabe mature setting.

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! lies within the same genre as Hai to Gensou no Grimgar, but with a real comedic take on it. Kazuma dies in a very anticlimactic accident and goes to the afterlife where he chooses to live an adventurer life with his goddess companion Aqua.

Both Kazuma and Aqua fit terribly in the middle aged adventurer world, which gives room for much comedic moments to drive the show. To gather coin and make a decent living, they have to collect rewards from beating monsters. Kazuma and Aqua have poor experience with this fact and try to gather group members to help them slay monsters. This results in an attraction of equal misfits, which really makes a amusing watch. Instead of Hai to Gensou no Grimgar who takes itself way to seriously.

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