Winter 2015 – First Impressions (Part 1)

kantai_collection-01-ikazuchi-kaga-akagi-souryuu-hiryuu-inazuma-aircraft_carriers-destroyers-battle-sailing-bow-arrow-runways-japanese_clothingThis post reviews: Yuri Kuma Arashi, Kantai Collection (KanColle), Junketsu no Maria (Maria the Virgin Witch), and Koufuku Graffiti.

Since this season is light in terms of new anime, and there aren’t too many shows I am planning on watching this season, there will only be 2 installments of my first impressions posts. Since the anime in these posts are always grouped by the dates they are released, I think all that will be needed are two for Winter 2015.

 

Watching:

Yuri Kuma Arashi

yuri_kuma_arashi-01-lulu-ginko-bear_form-court-trial-unhappy-cuteThe highlights of Yuri Kuma Arashi are its storytelling and its visual presentation. The execution in this first episode was brilliant, and helped lay the foundation for what should be an intriguing story about love between two conflicting and divided sides. In terms of the characterization, there isn’t much to say beyond identifying each girl’s primary personality, but it’s how they’ll change that will intrigue me. The content of the first episode did little to inspire me, but the storytelling was remarkable in how it constructed this delicate situation. But perhaps the most imposing fact about this first episode is its visuals. It won’t have the best art or animation this season, but its cinematography was superb in how it diversified its shots and scenes. A great example of this is how it positioned its characters with Ginko and Lulu were walking down the spiral staircase. In all, about what I expected given the pedigree of the production staff, though I will admit that I am not as enthused on this anime as I originally thought.

yuri_kuma_arashi-01-kureha-determined-serious-angry-blush-bed-pink yuri_kuma_arashi-01-ginko-human_form-transformation-bear_ears-paws-crown-happy-cute

 

Kantai Collection (KanColle)

kantai_collection-01-naka-sendai-yuudachi-mutsuki-fubuki-jintsuu-light_cruisers-destroyers-fleet-sortieI might have a think for military-themed, all-girls anime like Strike Witches, Girls und Panzer, and now Kantai Collection. What immediately stood out to me with this first episode was the duration and quality of these naval battles. It helped that the 3D animation was both gorgeous and smooth, but it was the length and complexity of the battle (18 ships were shown, not to mention countless Zeros) is what I’ll remember the most from this first episode. Unfortunately, I don’t know how often the anime will be able to present naval warfare like this, but at least it was a demonstration of its skills, and it provides me with some hope for a grand finale. With regards to its cast, I’m conflicted. In a sense, I’m happy to see a diverse cast of characters, but the breadth combined with the short course of the anime means each girl will be shallow or one-dimensional except the handful of primary characters like Fubuki, Yuudachi, and some of the aircraft characters. I wish I could see each character developed, but they’d need to make KanColle about 100 episodes for that to happen. Hopefully the anime focuses on some of the more interesting characters. The content of the first episode was a bit of a cliché, but that weakness was fortified by its distinctive setting. Sure, outside the naval themes and alien invaders, it’s pretty much a school setting, slice-of-life anime, but that is never a negative if those aspects are performed well. And, well… the school aspects in this first episode were satisfactory. It wasn’t anything exceptional, but it wasn’t anything terrible either. I’m looking forward to seeing how this anime develops, though I expect the content in the next few episodes to be primarily on school and mock battles against other girls. I am kinda curious if the anime will ever have a beach episode…

kantai_collection-01-yuudachi-destroyer-blonde-accent-looking_up kantai_collection-01-fubuki-destroyer-protagonist-daydreaming-happy-sparkles-ice_cream

 

Junketsu no Maria (Maria the Virgin Witch)

junketsu_no_maria-01-maria-artemis-witch-succubus-owl-war-broomFrom the creator of Moyashimon, comes Junketsu no Maria, an anime about a witch who hates warfare in medieval France. But perhaps more significant than the story are the underlying themes of the anime, perhaps most notably are the two main characters, Joseph and a virgin named Maria… huh. Not only that, but there is also some conflict between the church and Maria, as well as the church’s role in the war, and there are some underpinnings to this anime that are laying a solid foundation for a fascinating story. Outside of that, the setting is spectacular in how it mixes its fantasy and realism. The soldiers of Gaul were a ragtag bunch of peasants, which is counter to most fantasy anime, where every soldier has full plate armor, a longsword, and at least 3-months training at the local military academy. There’s also the realism in the peasant village and how the battle progressed (although the number of arrows was exaggerated). Then there are the fantasy elements with Maria and Artemis, performing their magic and transformations and whatnot with ease which provides a pleasant contrast to everything else. I don’t have much to say on the characters at this point other than that Maria and Artemis feel a bit more cartoony than everyone else, even the little peasant girl, Anne. The art and animation are easily some of the strongest this season, given its attractive character designs and fluid battle animations. It is worth noting the anime is a bit ecchi with having Maria naked a few times and Artemis’ outfit, but it’s blended in fairly naturally and not in-your-face or distracting. Overall, one of the most impressive first episodes this season and on its way to being perhaps one of the top anime of the season.

junketsu_no_maria-01-anne-happy-excited-enthusiasm-hat junketsu_no_maria-01-maria-witch-bathing-fanservice-ecchi-boobs-blonde_hair

 

Undecided:

Nothing here, which means…

 

Dropped:

Koufuku Graffiti

koufuku_graffiti-01-kirin-eating-hungry-chopsticksAlthough the individual elements of Koufuku Graffiti were fine, the whole product as an anime failed to hook me. What interested me the most was that cooking was a focal point of the anime, yet it felt underserved compared to the characters and their stories. In fact, besides the opening scene with Ryou cooking and describing her directions, the cooking felt like an afterthought, and the theme transitioned to general “food” and “eating” themes rather than “cooking”. To me, “food” wasn’t a problem, but the orgasmic eating scenes were ridiculous and served well to fragment the scenes between slice-of-life and erotic fanservice. It didn’t help that the characters felt shallow with their problems (one wants someone to eat their food, the other wants to go to art school), but their behaviors were fine given the topic of this anime. The art and animation were enjoyable, and helped create a pleasant personality for this anime. But what keeps this anime from inspiring me to watch more episodes is that I really don’t care about the characters, their issues, and how the theme of food, cooking and eating is presented. I will say that this first episode wasn’t terrible – in fact, it was mildly enjoyable – but there isn’t enough in this anime to keep me going. So, given this judgment, I’m dropping Koufuku Graffiti.

koufuku_graffiti-01-ryou-crying-frustrated-blush koufuku_graffiti-01-kirin-unhappy-grumpy-frown-adorable

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  1. #1 by nolazyway on January 11, 2015 - 4:33 PM

    Reblogged this on nolazyway.

    • #2 by avvesione on January 12, 2015 - 12:33 AM

      Thanks! I hope to see you around in the comments section from time to time in the future!

      • #3 by nolazyway on January 12, 2015 - 12:45 AM

        Sure I will once I get the time to :)

  2. #4 by Guang Min Lye on January 12, 2015 - 12:21 AM

    Hey, Avvesione? Remember that one comedy anime that have a mind-reading girl? That anime that I insisted you at least watch the 1st episode?

    Yeah, please do the same for Yoru no Yatterman, no spoiler or anything & I’m not saying the show is going to be great, but at least the 1st episode make me cried a bit. Great stuff.

    • #5 by avvesione on January 12, 2015 - 12:35 AM

      I’m actually ahead of you on this one. I gave the first episode a go and came away impressed, especially in the animation and its charming personality. I am waiting to see what the 2nd episode shows since this first one was all backstory and introductions, so I don’t know what the content of the main story will be. Still, I was happy with that first episode, and I’ve even recommended it to friends, too. Thanks for the heads-up though!

  3. #7 by Guang Min Lye on January 12, 2015 - 12:59 AM

    Yuri Kuma Arashi=
    Wow, can you get anymore suggestive then this? It is quite uncomfortable to watch the show. Great style though.

    Kantai Collection=
    To me, this show strangely felt more serious to me then Strike Witches. Probably because the girls were actually more visibly damaged. & the enemies unlike the mechanic enemies in Strike Witches actually look like people &/or organic.

    Oh, & I like how the commander aka the player (you) is not only voiceless but imageless.

    Maria the Virgin Witch=
    So far so good, other then the art style become ‘cleaner’ compare to the manga, which made the MCs like you say, more cartoony.

    • #8 by avvesione on February 1, 2015 - 8:08 PM

      This reply might be a little late, but I agree with you that Yuri Kuma Arashi is a little heavy with its sexual themes. Makes me wonder if they’ll tone it down or turn it up as it continues.

      To me, Kantai Collection is quite a bit more serious than Strike Witches. For one, you don’t have all the girls running around in their panties fighting aliens which is probably the most notable step up. That and the fights and whatnot give it more weight than Strike Witches.

      I went back and looked at the manga art style after you mentioned it, and I do admit to liking the anime style more than the manga style for Junketsu no Maria. It seems to fit the personality of the anime better, I think.

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