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.
Yuri Kuma Arashi
The 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.
Kantai Collection (KanColle)
I 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…
Junketsu no Maria (Maria the Virgin Witch)
From 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.
Nothing here, which means…
Although 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.