Most of the anime I’m watching this season are sequels which explains why these First Impressions posts are so light and infrequent this season. However, this season appears to be about as busy as any other, in terms of total anime, considering the number of sequels I’ll be watching in addition to all the new anime. If you were curious, here are some quick thoughts on the sequels that I’ve elected to continue during Winter 2015:
Aldnoah.Zero (S2): Completely ignoring the finale of S1 will mean a quick decline in S2. So disappointing.
Dog Days” (S3): A vast improvement over S2, likely to the reappearance of an actual story.
Durarara!! X2: A reintroduction to our memorable cast with new elements merged nicely throughout.
Gundam Reconguista in G: The most consistent thing about this anime is that I don’t understand anything.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Stardust Crusaders (S2): I knew I was going to dread Iggy, so at least I was able to prepare myself. JJBA is best when there is a strong antagonist, so until Dio appears, the series might struggle. Still, the Egyptian Deity series of Stands should be better overall than the Tarot series.
Kamisama Kiss S2: …were there always this many males? All I remember, or that I want to remember, from the first series is Nanami and Tomoe disguised as Nanami.
For those who watched Death Billiards, the first episode of Death Parade provided a warm welcome back to the series by reminding us again of its shocking concepts, sophisticated setting, and stoic protagonist, Decim. For those who are completely new to this franchise… well, how was that for a first episode? I will admit, I did enjoy how closely this first episode mirrored Death Billiards, though I am thrilled they took the situation in a separate path this time. The key difference between the episodes is that this featured two sides cooperating in their game versus the standard competition in the OVA. And that leads me to my main thought with this series… where will it go? What does it want to do with its characters? With Decim? With Onna? Whatever it is, I’m certain it’ll be intriguing and stimulating considering the content of its episodes, but it does have a larger cast than I was expecting as shown in the OP. Still, with its superiority in storytelling, its appealing design, it’s curious characters, those gorgeous visuals, and that elegant setting, I must say that Death Parade is gonna be a fun anime to watch this season.
The Rolling Girls
The phenomenal art and magnificent animation of the Rolling Girls is reason enough to watch it, but it’s the absurdity of the setting and its ridiculous characters that will keep the anime fresh and exciting every week. However, that remains to be seen given the peaks and valleys in this episode. The fight at the beginning and the ramen-eating race were easily the twin pinnacles of this episode (I might be biased to the ramen scene myself) and the anime was running on a sugar high. The rest of the episode… well, that’s the crash. That’s not to say these scenes were bad, but just a completely different flavor, a different energy than the action scenes. I really wonder if this anime will be like a rollercoaster, cycling between peaks and troughs depending on the quality and quantity of its action sequences. If it’s anything like this first episode, great. If it’s anything less, that’d still be fine because the visuals are as equally impressive. Use of lighting and color have always been two of my favorite aspects of aesthetics in anime and this probably has the best use of color of any anime this season. Add in its charming animation, and this anime is certainly pleasing to my eyes. And yes, the absurdity of its world is certainly encouraging too, being as wacky and senseless as it wants to be. I’m still a bit weary of how the characters and the story will turn out, but the anime is no-doubt entertaining and meaningful to watch. It has a few areas it can improve upon and it should once this anime finishes these introductions.
Soukyuu no Fafner – Dead Aggressor: Exodus
Perhaps the most crucial, most valuable lesson learned from this first episode of Soukyuu no Fafner – Dead Aggressor: Exodus, at least from my perspective, is that you don’t need to sit through the originals to watch and enjoy this anime. Without having watched the TV anime from 2004 or the movie from 2010, I was able to understand and appreciate the background, the setting, and the characters. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a number of references and other tidbits that hinted back to the original series that I completely missed, but I’m fine with watching Soukyuu no Fafner without it. However, I will admit that this first episode was a bit underwhelming. If I were to give this episode a review in a single word, I wouldn’t have any qualms with saying, ‘mediocre’. But this mediocre isn’t bad… it’s not mediocre in the overall field of anime, just mediocre in my personal field… which means it’s actually pretty good. In fact, I think I enjoy just about every aspect of this anime from its art, to its action, to its characters, to its story, its setting, its everything. But what gives it that mediocre tag is that nothing blew me away. It was underwhelming in that nothing stood out to me about this anime to make it exceptional or memorable. Fafner is an enjoyable anime, one that I will likely enjoy watching each week, but there’s nothing special about this anime… yet.
First, this was a markedly improved product over the Assassination Classroom OVA that debuted in 2013 (although this was expected). However, the leap in quality might not be enough to warrant keeping this anime. While I did enjoy the dazzling art and cinematography and found the storytelling and comedy a plus over the OVA, I worry about the story, the characters, and the comedy for the remainder of the series. This first episode did a sufficient job of introducing the background, the main character, Nagisa, his motivations, and the antagonist, Koro-sensei. Really, that’s all it needed to do. But the middle of the series will likely be like that of the OVA… some sentimental stories that’s heavy with absurd comedy and failed assassination attempts. I figure a few episodes here and there might be fun, but this pattern will likely get tired pretty fast. This style of shounen comedy really didn’t work for me before, and it probably won’t work for me now. Still, I do want to see what the content of the second episode is like and whether the comedy improves or if the other characters are as interesting as Nagisa. In fact, if either is true, then this anime might be saved. Until then, consider the anime doubtful, though it deserves another episode at this point.
Yoru no Yatterman
Yoru no Yatterman might eventually be one of the best anime of the season, but it’ll need one more episode to convince me it’s worth watching. Even though it had one of the best opening episodes of Winter 2015, I realize the content of the episode is not representative to how the rest of the series will perform. Still, just about everything about this episode was impressive, especially its art, animation and cinematography. At the very least, I know Yoru no Yatterman will be one of the most delightful aesthetically this season with outstanding visuals like these in every episode. What I’m worried with the series is the story. Given the storytelling of this first episode, I’m sure the narrative of the story will be fascinating, seeing as that we’re witnessing this world through the eyes of its supposed anti-heroes. However, I am not sure if this will be standard hero vs. villain battles or if the series will be creative in how the story and the world develop. However, I am fairly confident that the character development will be handled carefully and skillfully given what this first episode demonstrated. That being said, I don’t really care for any of the characters right now, but I care what they stand for… and that’s actually pretty big for me to say this early in an anime. There’s a high probability that I will keep this anime after watching the second episode, but it has to go in the direction I want for its story, its characters and its setting. If not, I wouldn’t mind dropping Yoru no Yatterman, but given that this first episode greatly exceeded my expectations, I think that the chances of that are unlikely.
The iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls
I’ve never been big on idol anime. In fact, the only idol anime I’ve watched as it aired since the inception of this blog has been the original The iDOLM@STER (as well as its spin-off chibi comedy, Puchimas!). What’s the difference, you might ask, considering the two anime are virtually twins of each other minus the characters? Well, it’s that the first episode of the original series had a hook. This one didn’t. What the first episode did was introduce the entire cast through an interesting method of interviewing each and demonstrating to the audience what the series had to offer. Cinderella Girls focused on only three. The original iDOLM@STER offered more diversity in its cast to start, featured a number of different stories (why each girl wanted to be an idol), and presented it in an innovative way. This one did not. Cinderella Girls took a fairly standard anime approach to opening its story, and it fell flat. And while I did enjoy the original anime, I can’t say the same for this one. There was no hook, and as a result, there is no real motivation for me to keep watching.