Winter 2016 is turning out better than I imagined, though only slightly. As you can see from this post, I had a rather positive experience with this batch of anime. The real question will be on how this season performs beyond this first week, but it seems to be in good shape going forward. I hope to have the third and final First Impressions post out soon.
Tabi Machi Late Show
I’m not sure whether I should comment on short anime or not, but considering the lack of attention on Tabi Machi Late Show, why not give this anime some acknowledgement? Tabi Machi Late Show is one of the three 7-minute anime that airs alongside Oshiete! Galko-chan and Sekkou Boys, but unlike those two, Tabi Machi Late Show is a slow-cooked and heartwarming series of mini-dramas. There’s not much substance to the anime, as the primary theme is on “journeys” and “farewells”, so it doesn’t have a strong, central narrative to build off of. However, what it lacks in content, it makes up for with its style, given its aesthetics and picture-book animation style. There’s not much going for Tabi Machi Late Show; it’s not like you’ll miss anything significant or remarkable if you don’t watch it. However, it’s a light, simple, and easy watch that might go well when paired with a blanket and some hot cocoa, if you think that might be your style this winter.
Koukaku no Pandora
Koukaku no Pandora is the kind of brainless, stupid, fun anime that I typically enjoy. There’s no groundbreaking story or inspiring characters in Pandora, but the anime is incredibly cute and charming given its female robot cast and predominately chibi art style. It could do without the ecchi fanservice, such as the location of the F port by Clarion’s panties (so that’s why they’re so low), but it does capitalize off some of these scenes with halfway decent jokes. The overall comedy is rather mediocre, but it fits in with this lighthearted setting and art style. I don’t think I can really comment on the storytelling or character development at this point because… I don’t think there’ll be any. I’m not expecting much from Pandora over the course of this season, but as long as it continues to be a cute, chibi comedy about robot girl best friends… fighting for world peace or something? (I honestly wasn’t paying attention)… it’s worth watching.
Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu bleeds brilliance and magnificence in this sincere drama about an ex-con restarting his life as a rakugo performer. What inspired me the most about this first episode is that, rather than be bound by the chains of traditional TV anime, Shouwa Genroku extended its length from 24 to 48 minutes, to complete its story. Really, there were no good stopping points in this first episode, so rather than splitting it into two and ruining the pacing and storytelling, Shouwa Genroku opted to continue seamlessly, providing an uninterrupted experience. From that alone, you can tell that Shouwa Genroku is dedicated to its story and its characters. And of note, each of the three primary characters has their own individual story or purpose worth following, with each seeking a defined and different goal that will interweave with the others. Not to mention, the art and aesthetics are solid, especially with this color palette and use of lighting. And though I do have some things to nitpick about this first episode, such as Yakumo denying Yotarou but then almost immediately accepting him back three times, they’re trivial matters in the grand scheme of things. The first episode of Shouwa Genroku was nothing short of magnificent, but I can’t help wonder where it’ll go from here. Still, this first episode was more than reason enough to want to continue this anime, and I certainly hope everyone gives this first episode a try.
Comedies depend greatly on the humor, but also on the delivery, and what makes Dagashi Kashi such a delightful anime is that it has the right style of delivery with Hotaru as the lead female. Really, Hotaru carries the anime with her childish, colorful, and loud style, which is a bright and brilliant contrast compared to the dull, rural townsfolk like Kokonotsu and Saya. And it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t mention the father, too, You, but his involvement in the first episode wasn’t as inspiring as Hotaru. I do wonder how well the anime will perform if Hotaru or You are gone for any extended duration because it was only “okay” without them versus “hilarious” with them. As for the content of the comedy, the candy store-themed story is nice, but it’s a bit difficult to appreciate considering that all the snacks and candies are ones that I am not familiar with. Still, I smiled and laughed watching the first episode and that’s usually the criteria I go by when picking out comedy anime. As far as the other criteria, Dagashi Kashi has quite a pleasant aesthetic choice, and I’m always interested in a rural setting, so those are obvious positives. I do wonder how ecchi the anime will be considering the fanservice in the first episode, but it really isn’t a problem right now. Dagashi Kashi is an easy decision for me this season. This might actually evolve into one of my favorite anime of the season depending on how the comedy develops.
Bubuki Buranki is an anime with two halves: the first half with the family isolated in a fantasy world with menacing robots and magical powers and the second half with a quintet of teenagers in a modern Japanese setting fighting with mecha-monster-things against an adult with a mecha-monster-thing. First, I’d be lying if this didn’t immediately evoke images of Kamisama Dolls, and second, why did Bubuki Buranki have to leave that fantasy realm? As I mentioned, Bubuki Buranki’s first episode had two distinct halves, and though you could label them by their settings or before-and-after, I think of them as the “good” half and the “meh” half. The start of Bubuki Buranki was outstanding and impressive, showcasing the struggles of a growing family in a bleak and desolate world filled with sleeping killer robots. If the anime were just that, I’d be watching it, no question. However, the second half of the episode is what I expect the rest of the anime to be, about a group of kids fighting society as the kids try to return home or something shounen-sounding like that. It… it really failed to inspire me and I wonder whether Bubuki Buranki can recapture the magic it lost with that dazzling first half. I’ll need to see another episode to determine whether it’s worth keeping or not, so I’ll be interested to see where it goes from here and what it tries to do. However, given the direction it’s heading in, I probably won’t keep it around for much longer.
Nurse Witch Komugi-chan R
So… this is nothing like the original Komugi-chan anime. Whereas the original anime had passionate comedy and cuter, moe characters with personalities, Komugi-chan R has neither and feels like a watered-down and bland reimagining of Nurse Witch Komugi-chan Magikarte. Like, in the original, they had an episode to Komugi-chan getting killed by a truck and spending the episode as a ghost watching as how everyone’s lives improved after she was gone. …I don’t see that here. I also don’t see the otaku humor, like parodies of 2chan and other anime like I did in the original. And the animation… I know Akio Watanabe did the character designs for both, but the original was so much brighter and more appealing… while this one just feels boring and generic. And where are all the references to The Soultaker, the original anime that allowed for the spinoff of the Nurse Witch Komugi-chan franchise? I seriously doubt that I will keep this considering that I enjoyed the original so much more, 8 years ago, and I’d recommend going back and watching that instead of this. I’ll give it one more episode to see where this goes since it does have some significant changes from the original, like Tsukasa, but I don’t think it’s worth my time this season.
Nothing from this batch, though a final decision remains for the two in the Undecided category.