«

»

Apr 23

Spring Anime 2017 First Episode Impressions – Part 2

Boruto Shippuden in 2020

Slow but steady, or something like that. This second batch of episodes covers stuff that aired in April 3rd, 4th and 5th. So we’ve got the next generation of ninjas and long running shōnen’s in Boruto, idols a plenty in PriPara, Starmyu and Idolm@ster, and our first keeper of the season!

What could it be? Guess you’ll have to click and find out…

 

 

Warau Salesman NEW

Length – Regular (23 mins)
Studio – Shin-Ei Animation
Director – Hirofumi Ogura (Kuroshitsuji II, InuYasha Movie 4)

Remake of The Laughing Salesman. The mysterious salesman with the terrifying face appears to clients who are in need, helping them with their problems and addictions. Except its very much a poisoned chalice, with his clients often regretting taking his support.

The Good – The salesman has that creepy vibe down pat, aiding in the whole “deal with the devil” theme of the show. Having an episode be comprised of two stories keeps the pacing tight and gives more background for the salesman too. Some great animation in the opening as well.

The Bad – Regular characters vary from looking bland to downright weird. Pretty much everyone in the show is a moron, either trying to abuse a gift or just making incredibly bad decision, but even when they’re erstwhile they get screwed over too. Nobody wins. And that’s not fun to watch. Especially when the salesman breaks his own damn rules and contracts.

The VerdictDROPPED

Depressing is an accurate summation of this show, and with no long arc of storytelling it’s highly unlikely the salesman will get his comeuppance. I didn’t gain anything out of watching this show, especially in the second episode where I could already predict the format and was clock watching. Want a good deal with the devil story? Read Needful Things. Next.

Starmyu Second Season

Length – Regular (23 mins) ~ 12 eps
Studio – C-Station
Director – Shunsuke Tada (Starmyu, Dragonar Academy)

Second season of High School Star Musical. Yuuta Hoshiya and company have now made it to the second year of Ayana Academy, a school all for musicians and idols in training. Now his group must compete against others to secure places performing in the graduation ceremony and prove that they’re the best around.

The Good – As you’d hope, the music videos are really well done, with none of that CG malarkey of other shows. The show also goes straight into the new arc of the second year without wallowing in the past, and establishes what the end goal is.

The Bad – Those music videos just kinda came out of nowhere with little context or justification. And I lost track of all the characters, it felt like there were at least two dozen named faces, maybe more. And only a couple of those really stood out as individuals. And for a show all about five man groups… we never saw any five man group perform…

The VerdictDROPPED

Doing these first episode impressions means I get to see a lot of male idol shows, and this is… well, just another one. There’s nothing unique in concept, setting or characters to make it stand out, it’s just a show where boys dance nicely to alright music. Maybe that’s your thing. Maybe it’ll be mine one day. But this series won’t be the one to start that trend.

Frame Arms Girl

Length – Regular (23 mins) ~ 12 eps
Studio – Zexcs / Studio A-CAT
Director – Keiichirou Kawaguchi (Zettai Karen Children, Sket Dance)

One day highschooler Ao receives a random package containing a Frame Arms Girl called Gourai. The miniature robot is a fully functioning android trying to develop its own AI by learning about emotions and human behaviour. In time, more robogirls arrive to test the combat specs of the newly awakened Gourai, and so Ao’s journey into the world of Frame Arms Girls begins.

The Good – This show used CG really well, both in the opening and for the battle between the two mecha girls. There were also a couple of good jokes, from the crow attacking delivery drones to Gourai demanding to have her armour assembled. You might almost call it How to Build Models The Anime. Having two stories in an episode helps keeps thing fresh and flowing too (is everyone doing that this season?).

The Bad – Strike Witches syndrome of everyone having their pants be visible for no reason. We even got an erotic moan when Gourai was getting charged, which is just… ugh. There was a lack of consistency elsewhere too, with girls fully armoured one moment than stripped down the next, plus some other weird writing choices, like the conclusion of the fight lacking any real punch because of how quick it was.

The VerdictUNLIKELY

I was terrified this was going to be the next Busou Shinki, but it turned out okay. I didn’t need any of the sexualisation, and somehow I don’t think the writing is going to tell an enthralling narrative outside of how the lil’ idiots interact with each other in different life scenarios, but if you like mech girl shows, this one seems harmless enough.

Idol Time PriPara

Length – Regular (24 mins)
Studio – Tatsunoko Production / Dongwoo A&E
Director – Makoto Moriwaki (PriPara, Tantei Opera Milky Holmes)

Yui dreams of becoming an idol in the magical world of PriPara. Then a PriPara shop opens in her town. So she becomes an idol. Also past character Lala is back. Seen one of these, seen them all…

The Good – It’s as bright and colourful as ever. I think this is also the first one of these children’s idol shows that actually has boy’s taking part as well.

The Bad – Which makes it so perplexing that the plot is “only boys can do the idol thing” considering that goes against both every other show in the genre AND most of the mythos of this universe. Like, seriously. That compounds with general poor writing and bland characters who achieve their goals with so little effort. They even go out of their way to reset the veteran in the stupidest way possible (her entry ticket got a corner bent).

The VerdictDROPPED

I usually find these shows fairly bland, but this one was genuinely annoying at how badly it was written. I really hope kid’s pick up on it and rip this a new one. There are a million idol shows in this genre, from past PriPara to Pretty Rhythm to Aikatsu and more, go watch one of those. Any one. They’ll all be better.

Shounen Ashibe: Go! Go! Goma-chan 2

Length – Half-Length (9 mins)
Studio – Bridge
Director – Nobuhiro Kondo (Sgt Frog, Nobunagun)

Second season of Go! Go! Goma-chan. Comedy series focusing on the day to day life of Ashibe Ashiya when a delivery truck drops off a seal in front of his house.

The Good – I enjoyed this episode being the reverse of the original, with Goma being taken away by a random delivery truck. Some of the jokes got a rise out of me too.

The Bad – Even in a shortened format some of the jokes got reused far too much, and having a lot of the cast just be dumb idiots doing one joke over and over didn’t help with characters. The ending felt a little unsatisfying too.

The VerdictUNLIKELY

As the shorter comedy shows go, this one isn’t bad, far from it, but it never really gets going out of first gear. Goma’s adorable and the simpler style of animation works well enough, but there’s little to keep you coming back for more.

Rokudenashi Majutsu Koushi to Akashic Records

Length – Regular (24 mins) ~ 12 eps
Studio – Lidenfilms
Director – Minato Kazuto (directorial debut)

Glenn has been forced to become a teacher at a prestigious magic academy against his will, despite having no competence at it. He makes all classes self-study, acts like a pervert and gets beaten by one of his students in a magic duel. Apparently he has an intense desire to protect his classmates. That wasn’t in this episode.

The Good – It’s nothing special, but I like the way magic is handled with shortenable incantations and circles and such. The witch teacher does the whole “cross me and you die” shtick down pat too. Having the magic duel be limited to one spell also opened up possibilities for strategy.

The Bad – I mean, there’s wasn’t any, but still. Other flaws? Well, besides Glenn being literal garbage, there’s also the needless fanservice scene and costumes in general. Guys have normal outfits, as do people in the town, but girls have uniforms that expose an insane amount of skin. One of the girls seems weirdly tolerant of his bullshit too. Did I mention Glenn is an awful lead?

The VerdictDROPPED

The tone of my notes goes from “ooh magic fantasy school, this might be alright” to “kill me”. I mean, sure, this subverts the “seemingly useless but has a trump card” character trope by just… making him actually useless. It’s just a downhill journey from start to finish, as you realise how worthless the lead character is. In a world with numerous magical school anime shows, this is one of the worst. Don’t bother. Please. Don’t bother.

The IDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls Gekijou

Length – Short (3 mins) ~ 13 eps
Studio – Gathering
Director – Mankyuu (Puchimas, Tono to Issho)

Spinoff of The Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls series. Short snippets of the various idols daily lives.

The Good – Splitting the show into three mini-skits essentially meant they could tell the joke then instantly walk away onto the next one instead of spending too much time on befores and afters.

The Bad – Hope you’re familiar with the characters or every joke will fall flat. The fact that one of them is a little creepy doesn’t exactly set a good precedent either.

The VerdictDROPPED

Veteran Idolm@ster fans might get a kick out of this, but it’s so lightweight and lacking in any substance I doubt it. Here’s a girl doing a thing also other girls maybe giving their thoughts joke over next skit! Man, this season isn’t going well, is it…

Oushitsu Kyoushi Haine

Length – Regular (24 mins) ~ 12 eps
Studio – Bridge
Director – Katsuya Kikuchi (Idol Memories)

aka The Royal Tutor. Heine Wittgenstein is the latest in a succession of royal tutors to be appointed to oversee the education of the second through fifth princes of the kingdom, as their various defiant personalities have driven all comers away. It’s up to Heine to cut through their various resentments and make worthy princes of them all, if he can.

The Good – Each prince comes across well as a distinct individual who has their own problem with being tutored, and Heine himself is a brilliant foil with his stoic attitude and merciless demeanour. The show did a good job of using visuals to amplify the comedy and emotions on display, and took it’s time with the opening instead of rushing to introduce everybody instantly.

The Bad – Heine comes across as a bit flat, especially with a very monotone voice that doesn’t make him the most captivating, despite his role as the straight man in the comedic elements. I also question how much longevity the formula has, as it feels like after a few episodes this could fall flat.

The VerdictPOSSIBLY

Certainly an interesting show, and in a season overflowing with rubbish this stands out as something neat and fairly different, but my worries about elements of the show like Heine’s voice and personality starting to grate down the line stop me short of calling this a keeper. Definitely one to keep an eye on and try out for yourself though.

Boruto: Naruto Next Generations

Length – Regular (24 mins)
Studio – Studio Pierrot
Director – Hiroyuki Yamashita (Boruto the Movie)

Sequel to Naruto Shippuden. Boruto Uzumaki, son of the original series’ titular hero Naruto, has now begun his ninja journey as he enrolls in the academy previously attended by his parents as well as Sakura and Sasuke. New friends and adventures await in the now modernised Hidden Leaf Village.

The Good – Boruto has a pretty bright and colourful aesthetic, both in terms of environments and character designs. The show also does a good job of including the previous generation but never being defined by them, letting the new cast run the show. The modernisation and having ninjitsu alongside machinery (kinda like Korra) is also an appealing aspect.

The Bad – Boruto is a twerp, much like his father was. I really don’t need the whole angst and parental distrust either after Naruto went through a somewhat similar arc. None of the characters really stand out either besides Boruto, and opening with a flashforward of several years only hammers home how uninteresting the show is in the here and now. Also the presumably “villainous influence” which I assume is the first arc’s plot point just happens and unhappens with next to no fanfare.

The VerdictUNLIKELY

Obviously this is a slow burn of a show that will more than likely run for five, maybe ten years, so is incredibly hard to judge, but this bears a lot of the hallmarks that meant I never really got invested in the ninja shōnen over the death god samurai one. Boruto is more annoying than endearing, the support cast are just bland, and while the humour isn’t as bad as its father, nothing here inspires confidence. Sorry Naruto fans.

Makeruna!! Aku no Gundan!

Length – Short (4 mins) ~ 12 eps
Studio – Tatsunoko Production
Director – Takahiko Kyogoku (Love Live School Idol Project 1 and 2)

Having struggled to find a purpose in life, Don settles on invader and sets course for the relatively easy target of Earth. However, things don’t go quite as planned, not least because of the seven billion Earthling’s he now has to keep tabs on…

The Good – I like the simple artstyle of this, lent a really charming air to the show which went well with its more jovial take on invasions. Some alright jokes with the family too, as well as a cool claymation ending sequence.

The Bad – There’s little substance, especially with his assistants who just appear out of nowhere, and it seems weird that they portray Earth as an easy target yet we’ve not been invaded before nor do they have any real intel on our planet.

The VerdictUNLIKELY

It’s a relatively silly comedy short. There’s nothing wrong with that, there’s just not a lot to make it stand out from all the other relatively silly comedy shorts. At only four and a half minutes a week, it won’t exactly drain your time though, so if you like the sound of “My First Invasion The Series” then why not give it a whirl.

Love Kome: We Love Rice

Length – Short (4 mins) ~ x eps
Studio – Encourage Films
Director – Takashi Horiuchi (Boku wa Ou-sama)

In an era where rice’s popularity is at an all-time low, a school is set up specially to promote it. But now that school faces closure, unless one group of students can save their beloved product, by forming an idol band and performing at the Harvest Festival. This is anime now, kids.

The Good – I enjoyed the credits being a live-action demonstration of how to produce a cool rice-based meal. As for the actual show? Er. I mean, it’s a unique premise…

The Bad – The show introduced its characters at the speed of light without letting half of them even say anything. Also setting up a fairly unique premise and then immediately flushing it partly down the toilet isn’t a way to keep viewer on track.

The VerdictDROPPED

Full points for originality, nil pois for execution. This is a short that’d probably function better with more time to breathe and establish itself, even if it is intended as a throwaway comedy. But as it is, it ain’t worth your time.

Busou Shoujo Machiavellianism

Length – Regular (24 mins) ~ 12 eps
Studio – Silver Link / Connect
Director – Hideki Tachibana (BlazBlue Alter Memory, Dragon Crisis)

aka Armed Girls Machiavellianism. Fudou Nomura has been transferred to a school where the girls ruthlessly rule over the boys, with every female armed, and five of them permitted to wield swords to correct problem students. But all Nomura wants is a free and peaceful school life, so now he must go into battle with the Supreme Five Swords.

The Good – I like the cutthroat nature of the girls who have taken the idea of protecting their sanctity to the absolute limit. Their character designs are all good and distinct, and Nomura as their foil plays his part well too. The show does a great job of establishing why things are the way they are, but still has plenty of time for an interesting fight sequence and setting up future threads.

The Bad – Yes, there are a few more perverted jokes, such as panty colours, and the aggression is a bit insane and over the top in how they take the fight to boys before they’ve even started their first day. Some of the sequences do also feel like low-rent knock offs of other shows, such as the opening being very Kill la Kill sans Trigger’s style.

The VerdictPOSSIBLY

Kill la Kill meets Prison School with some of the best aspects of each on display. There’s fanservice but it doesn’t control the show, there’s femdom but it’s not there for some stupid jokes, there’s fights but it doesn’t look to be fight of the week. And while it lacks the same visual panache of either of those shows, I found myself having a surprisingly alright time watching this. Not a masterpiece, but barring any implosion, not half bad either.

Sakurada Reset

Length – Regular (25 mins) ~ 24 eps
Studio – David Production
Director – Shinya Kawatsura (.hack//Gift, Kokoro Connect)

Set in the town of Sakurada, a lot of the population possess special powers within the confines of the town. Misori Haruka can reset time by up to three days, while Kei Asai can perfectly recall any events of his life, even through resets. The two decide to work together to help solve the problems and ills of the town and its residents.

The Good – This show does a great job of exploring the morality of being able to use such abilities like resetting, as well as looking at “good” and “righteousness” in general, and even sets up plenty of ground rules on powers and their use to stop people running wild. Nobody hides their abilities either, which is cool. The support cast are great at injecting a life and energy to proceeding too.

The Bad – Both leads are a bit… lifeless. While it fits their personalities, both have little to no variation in tone or facial expressions, which combined with the somewhat washed out palette the show uses can make for a very bland experience. It’s also hard to gauge the overall direction of the show (that last sentence of the description doesn’t happen in this episode).

The VerdictKEEPER

This is not a rollercoaster thrill ride or anything of the sort, but as an examination of human psyches and using your powers to try and do what you perceive as good, it’s fascinating. I enjoyed the way the three main cast members played off each other, and the premise sets itself up for plenty of potential interesting scenarios down the line. Kinda like a combination of Orange, Index and Groundhog Day, which I’m more than down for.

Sakura Quest

Length – Regular (23 mins) ~ 25 eps
Studio – P.A. Works
Director – Souichi Masui (Chaika the Coffin Princess, Final Fantasy XV Brotherhood)

Yoshino Koharu’ is a college graduate struggling to find employment, when one day she gets a call out of the blue from some town in the sticks that wants her to become their queen. But after she accepts she soon finds that this is far from a one day stint as she has a year to help the tourism board change the countryside town back to its former glory.

The Good – College aged cast, that’s a rarity. I like the narrative of a country raised girl trying to make it in the big city but being somewhat dragged back to rural life too. Koharu is a fairly likeable protagonist too, and I think the premise gives plenty of opportunities for fun stories, even more so when the rest of the main cast show up in the next episode (I think).

The Bad – A lot of the cast who are supposedly college age could still pass for highschoolers in any other anime. Koharu also isn’t the brightest bulb, from not reading contracts to expecting full bus services in a random town at night. I don’t really get the whole Chupakabura thing, especially as the town’s logo’s all make him out to be an evil radish or something.

The VerdictPOSSIBLY

There’s nothing magical about Sakura Quest, but it does do a good job of constructing its narrative and telling its little tale. There’s an endearing quality to a lot of the cast, from their passion and motivations, and the comedy elements are well implemented too. Not a show I’d champion, but not one I’d say no to watching more of either.

Well I was starting to get worried, but we now have at least one keeper in form of Sakurada Reset. Hopefully the last few shows of this part mean the general quality of series is going to increase. Guess we’ll find out in Part 3 with Berserk, Bahamut and the sequel to 2016 keeper Nobunaga’s Shinobi!