Winter 2016 – First Impressions (Part 1)

boku_dake_ga_inai_machi-01-sachiko-airi-satoru-dinner-curry-eating-together-table-prayersThis post reviews: Musaigen no Phantom World, Haruchika: Haruta to Chika wa Seishun Suru, Active Raid, and Boku Dake ga Inai Machi.

Given the lighter line-up this Winter and the fact that my life is calming down, I plan to return to publishing Weekly Anime posts on a regular basis after taking most of 2015 off. However, everything is still tentative right now but things look better this season than any time since Summer 2014.

 

Watching:

Boku Dake ga Inai Machi (ERASED)

boku_dake_ga_inai_machi-01-kayo-flashback-child-scarf-backpack-snow-sad-tears-alone-afraidBoku Dake ga Inai Machi is certainly one of the most promising anime of the season and easily has the most potential of the shows I’ve watched thus far. What I passionately enjoyed about Boku Dake ga Inai Machi is its attention to detail and its consistency among its themes, both of which are hallmarks to superb directing. The angles and durations of the shots, particularly when Satoru reunites with Sachiko and again when those two and Airi have curry, are particularly powerful at establishing mood, dialogue, and chemistry between the characters rather than on the individual characters themselves. You even see it in quick shots, too, such as when the truck is about to hit the young boy in the crosswalk (angled down to make him look scared and powerless) or in the hospital room (Satoru was in the light the whole time, Airi was in the shadow). Furthermore, the theme of children is consistent throughout the first episode, especially during the two time loops when Satoru and Sachiko search their settings. These are the signs of a director with a vision for this anime, so it’s particularly delightful that Boku Dake ga Inai Machi has such robust writing and dialogue to support this vision. Given the conversations thus far, the characters feel more human than archetypes, and the way they talk sounds natural rather than scripted. And in terms of the art work, I find the character designs to be extremely enjoyable, especially since they can make a 52-year old mother look like that. Boku Dake ga Inai Machi is an anime with a sturdy skeleton (writing), a solid exterior (art), and an insightful brain (directing). All the parts are here to make this be a successful anime, and I’m very curious to see what it can do this winter.

boku_dake_ga_inai_machi-01-airi-happy-cute-blush-genki-energetic boku_dake_ga_inai_machi-01-sachiko-mother-smoking-cigarette-52-short_hair

 

Undecided:

Musaigen no Phantom World

musaigen_no_phantom_world-01-reina-haruhiko-mai-celebrating-happy-cheerAlthough I initially passed on Musaigen no Phantom World after watching the PV and reading the synopsis, my morbid curiosity got the best of me, and I watched the first episode. And though my original thoughts were spot-on, that it’d be a rather shallow, ecchi anime, I was wrong on how I’d react to it: I didn’t hate it. Instead, I found myself enjoying bits and pieces of the episode, which essentially was the opening fight and one or two jokes elsewhere. Musaigen no Phantom World really does well with everything visual, so the anime is fun to watch if you like fighting and ecchi content, but the story is incredibly shallow and the characters are uninspiring. I don’t think there’s anything more to this anime than what we saw in the first episode with a schoolgirl beating up some monster in her buruma or bouncing her giant breasts to defeat another. If the anime can manages to improve in episode 2 and feature something other than constant fanservice, I might keep it, but otherwise, I’ll place this anime back where it belongs.

musaigen_no_phantom_world-01-ruru-phantom-fairy_genie_thingy-happy-genki-boobs-fang-blush_marks musaigen_no_phantom_world-01-mai-fighitng-pose-buruma-boobs-fanservice-ecchi

 

Haruchika: Haruta to Chika wa Seishun Suru

haruchika_haruta_to_chika_wa_seishun_suru-01-chika-angry-eating-chopsticks-hashi-fume-cuteThe first episode of Haruchika was tolerable at best and boring at worst, so it’ll get another episode before I decide whether to keep this anime or not. Haruchika didn’t do any one thing particularly well, but features satisfactory writing, a charming art style, and a main character strong enough to carry the anime when nothing’s happening. Where Haruchika could improve is… nothing really happened at all this episode. In fact, it was a rather lame start to the series since the whole mystery never really was resolved as the whole exchange is between a character that never comes back and another who barely even shows up. I find the setting to be a strong negative in an anime like this given that… it’s another school club anime that offers nothing new. However, the anime kept my attention span focused for a majority of the episode, and no, that wasn’t due to Chika’s hypnotic eyes (thought that may be part of it). I am curious to see whether this anime improves or if we’ll go through 4 episodes of introducing new characters with weird mini-mysteries each time and slowly “working” (you need to use sarcasm when talking about a romance progressing in an anime) on the love triangle between Chika, Haruta, and Kusakabe-sensei. And no, I don’t know for sure whether Haruchika will do this or not, but I’ve seen enough mediocre anime to know where this is going.

haruchika_haruta_to_chika_wa_seishun_suru-01-chika-haruta-childhood_friends-embarrassed-laughing-band haruchika_haruta_to_chika_wa_seishun_suru-01-chika-angry-beautiful_eyes-iris-colorful-emotional-genki-energetic

 

Dropped:

Active Raid

active_raid-01-asami-surprised-mouth_open-muted_expressionI had some hope that Active Raid might be decent, given that it’s a police anime with mecha and a catchy OP song… but no, Active Raid is outstandingly awful. Yes, even I’m impressed at how bad the first episode of Active Raid was. Nothing, absolutely nothing in this anime works. For example, the characters all have strong, conflicting personalities but the writing does no favors and they come across as exaggerated and theatrical when paired or grouped with each other. Another is that the process and policies of the police unit makes no sense given that the criminals killed probably a dozen police officers and they only sent 2 people out to talk to them. Yet another is the art. Are the characters able to show emotions with their faces? The art was subpar at best, but the faces struggled to show even the slightest bit of reaction with everyone looking bored and uninterested from start to finish. The silver lining with that, though, is that I could always remember the emotion I felt when watching Active Raid: bored and uninterested from start to finish. But yeah, I like the OP song, so it’s not all bad for Active Raid… and fortunately, I can listen to it any time I want without needing to bother with another episode of Active Raid again!

active_raid-01-haruka-asami-surprised-open_mouth-muted_expression active_raid-01-rin-chief-phone-giant_eyes_fixated_on_something-trying_to_be_serious_but_is_hilarious_instead

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  1. #1 by El Goopo on January 13, 2016 - 8:37 AM

    >Phantom World: I didn’t hate it
    >Active Raid: is outstandingly awful

    So the difference is basically that PW has nicer visuals, so you were more willing to find stuff you like, rather than just finding stuff you dislike? Or was it more that you mistook AR for something that wasn’t tongue-in-cheek, and thus had high expectations for it compared to PW?

    • #2 by avvesione on January 17, 2016 - 1:35 PM

      Don’t get me wrong, both Phantom World and Active Raid are bad anime. The main difference between them is that Phantom World, while shallow, has some redeeming qualities whereas Active Raid has none. I don’t think I’ll watch either this season, but I enjoyed the first episode of Phantom World more than Active Raid. And I know that Active Raid is whimsical and lighthearted with its comedy, like when they brought up the anime studio and politics as a joke, but like I said above, I was bored from start to finish. I can’t say that for Phantom World, which is why there is a difference between the two anime.

  2. #3 by Javi on January 13, 2016 - 10:03 PM

    Phantom World wasn’t great and won’t exactly be remembered as the best thing KyoAni ever made, but I can see it working as a slightly above average LN adaptation. The fanservice was almost comedic and it did look well-animated, in all of its ridiculous booby glory, so I could learn to live with it being such an obvious factor of what the series is doing,

    I might as well add that I had no big issues with Active Raid episode 1 myself. It wanted to be a very silly show, not a serious or realistic police drama, and that’s exactly what the first episode did. No more, no less. It might make for a similarly relaxed watch in my experience.

    You’re perfectly free to dislike that and prefer a more cerebral police anime instead, of course, but I felt the action and reactions here were all in service of lighthearted antics. A little loony, but they still made internal sense. For instance, we didn’t see the regular police actually getting killed (show isn’t really that bloody or gory so far), and it’s still a form of escalation to send in armored power suits against the robbers. I did think the art quality was kind of weak, yeah, but not that lacking emotion.

    • #4 by avvesione on January 17, 2016 - 1:42 PM

      Even if Phantom World is an above-average LN adaption, it’s still a LN adaptation, and the quality depends more on the original work rather than the studio producing it. I’m not sure Kyoto Animation could do any better with these dime-a-dozen LNs everywhere, but at least they can put lipstick on this pig better than any other studio. It’ll get a second episode because it does have some positives, but I still think Phantom World is pretty shallow.

      As for Active Raid, I understand that it’s an asinine police anime, but it still has to be funny for me to enjoy. And honestly, I don’t think I enjoyed any of the jokes or characters in the first episode. The budget for Active Raid seems extremely low considering the quality in the first episode, and it makes me wonder whether it’ll get worse as the season goes on. I didn’t really see much of anything in Active Raid, which is why I’m not picking it up for this season.

  3. #5 by mikoto0208 on March 15, 2016 - 12:50 PM

    have you kept up with boku dake? i’d be interested to know what you think of the lastest episode :) a lot of people hating on it for its popularity

    • #6 by avvesione on March 21, 2016 - 11:23 PM

      Despite how late and inattentive I am with my blog, I have been up to date on most anime, including Boku Dake ga Inai Machi. It’s sad to hear that many are criticizing it for its popularity, but you see that quite a bit with anime that are super popular or well-received among fans. Then again, it’s worth nothing how diverse the anime fandom is, so it isn’t surprising that Boku Dake ga Inai Machi isn’t for everyone. Still, I’ve been happy with it this season and am glad to see it receive praise and acclaim.

  4. #7 by YahariBento on March 23, 2016 - 7:30 AM

    About Haruchika, I agree with you ep 1 is borrrrrrring (just like other anime in ep 1) So I waited and watch ep 2,3,up and found out this anime is very interesting as well.

    but Boku Dake is not boring in ep 1 because it’s like murder case.

    • #8 by avvesione on April 4, 2016 - 12:22 AM

      Glad to hear that Haruchika picked up after episode 1 and that you enjoyed the later episodes. I didn’t hear much about it this season, so I am curious what happened to it.

      And yes, the murder mystery in episode 1 really set Boku Dake ga Inai Machi apart from the rest. Turned out to be my favorite show of the season.

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