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Oct 04

Fall Anime 2017 First Episode Impressions – Part 1

Food Wars, Food Wars Never Changes

Is it that time once more? The days grow shorter, the shops start stocking Halloween and Christmas goodies, and the Fall season of anime has arrived. This is usually where the big hitters of the year make their entrance, and considering my TV AotY has always been an Autumn show, it’s a reputation well-earned.

This first batch covers shows that aired up to October 3rd. We’ve got a few noteworthy sequels, such as UQ Holder, set in the far future of Negima, and Osomatsu-san 2, sequel to 2015’s classic. Food Wars is back too, alongside another pair of Jump series in Black Clover and Gintama. As for what else, and what I thought of these shows? Well, time to click and dive into this new season…

Ku Pao Ying Xiong

Length – Half-Length ~ 26 eps
Studio – Unknown
Director – Unknown

aka The Running Heroes. One day regular kid Xiao Shaui is caught in the middle of a supernatural storm and warped to another world, where he’s immediately hunted down by the local residents. Apparently it’s an endless runner game world, but that’s not mentioned in this episode.

The Good – I dig the animation style, with chibi-esque characters, plenty of interesting touches in the world design, and some great fluid chase scenes, which makes sense retroactively considering that’s what the show’s about. Some good upbeat music for the more intense scenes too.

The Bad – Character personalities are as bland as can be, ticking their one or two trope boxes and that’s all. Fairly bland “and then he got transported to a mystery world” narrative. Plus putting the focus on the chase means there’s no fight or payoff at the end, as the two leads just escape. And that music was unnecessarily loud at points.

The VerdictUNLIKELY

For a show tasked with fleshing out an endless runner, I’ll give them they did better than I expected. This show has its presentation down pat, but somewhat inevitably struggles with the actual narrative and dialogue. Something I wouldn’t mind watching an ep or two of, but would probably grow bored or annoyed at the lack of depth shortly after.

Omiai Aite wa Oshiego, Tsuyoki na, Mondaiji.

Length – Short
Studio – Seven
Director – Saburou Miura (ep director on I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying)

A girl and guy are set up for a marriage interview by their parents, and hit it off. But as it turns out, the guy is one of the girl’s students in the school she works at. Also they do it, because this is 18+.

The Good – I mean, they do a solid enough job of capturing personalities within the 5 minute runtime. And if you want your lewd, you get a good minute of lewd.

The Bad – The twist of them being the same guy is about as obvious as it gets, even though the two look different enough so when she takes his glasses off his face and hairstyle have completely changed from 10 seconds before. And if you’re doing a lovey-dovey story, why wouldn’t you animate their first kiss?

The VerdictDROPPED

There isn’t exactly much depth here, and the plot is just a vehicle to drive towards the lewd scenes. I mean, it’s better than last season’s lewd show, but that’s about all the compliments I can give it. There’s better hentai out there, kids.

Gintama: Porori-hen

Length – Regular
Studio – Bandai Namco Pictures
Director – Chizuru Miyawaki (Gintama 4, Gintama 5)

Sixth season of Gintama. Gintoki helps run an Odd Jobs agency that can get anything and everything done. But one thing usually leads to another and everything gets derailed.

The Good – The shōnen reference overload recap at the start was neat, and this show was committed to its brand of humour, keeping the gags going scene after scene. The few sombre moments really stood out surrounded by a sea of humour, too.

The Bad – Seen one cliché anime comedy, seen them all, as Gintama loves overexaggeration, idiocy and lolrandom. That’s the entire episode too, with the start joking about how far off the rail’s they’ve gone from the core plot. I feel bad for the one not braindead character. Rie Kugimiya doesn’t do a great job as Kagura’s VA in this ep either.

The VerdictDROPPED

I still struggle to see how Gintama rose to the top of the shōnen pile. Was it doing referential humour before the rest? Was it most people’s first exposure to this now far overdone style of humour? Maybe. If you love that style of humour, you’ll love Gintama. If you look for things more different or serious… well, there’s a reason it says dropped up there and not keeper.

UQ Holder!: Mahou Sensei Negima! 2

Length – Regular
Studio – J.C. Staff
Director – Youhei Suzuki (Urara Meirochou, Sword Oratoria)

Sequel to Negima. An adopted kid named Tota who lives with his teacher, Yukihime, desires to travel to the big city and climb its tallest tower to meet with his great relative, Negi, from the original Negima. When Yukihime is attacked by a bounty hunter and her true identity as Evangeline, one of Negi’s old students is revealed, she gifts Tota immortality, and so with cover blown, the two set off towards the capital.

The Good – The show did a good job of establishing backstory and elements in quick fashion, pacing itself well throughout. It got fairly gory when it needed to as well, with dismembered limbs and straight stabs to the heart. Stayed more focused on plot than lewdity than Negima ever did, too. I also liked the opening talking about Miss 700 Years Old not enjoying immortality.

The Bad – Though the lewd was still there in several scenes. And the opening / ending make it clear it’s gonna travel down a similar lewd path to Negima. Plus there wasn’t much original here either, from the vanilla protagonist to magically getting superpowers with next to no effort (he takes just one lick of vampire blood and is suddenly overpowered as hell).

The VerdictUNLIKELY

While I warmed to UQ Holder more than Negima, despite the latter being one of the very, very few anime / manga to know of Wales, there’s not much more here beyond shōnen tropes and fanservice. The focus on the pros and cons of immortality could make for an interesting narrative, as well as parallels between the two century (I think) apart series, but not enough to make this worth your while.

Osomatsu-san 2

Length – Regular
Studio – Studio Pierrot
Director – Yoichi Fujita (Osomatsu-san, ClassicaLoid)

Second season of Osomatsu-san. The continuing adventures of the Matsuno sextuplets, still trying to make their way through life, find jobs and girlfriends, and break out of their recluse lifestyles.

The Good – Amazing use of countless styles of animation for its comedy, from various aesthetics to 3D to live-action. Plot of this episode was good for a comedy show too, about a series trying to figure out what to do with its new found success. Loved the ED animation as well.

The Bad – Some of the jokes were dragged out too long by the necessity to do five or six variations on the punchline. Some elements lacked a payoff too, building a reveal or joke then just throwing it away. Plus the series lacks any kind of long-term hook or appeal outside of its comedy.

The VerdictPOSSIBLY

Osomatsu-san was one of the surprising success stories of 2015, so I was interested to see what it was like. This avoided many of the pitfalls of anime humour, or just made them its own, by setting up environments where even lolrandom seems normal. However, I’m not sure about the long-term appeal of this show, lacking any real reason to invest or come back for more. But if you want comedy anime, this is the show for you.

Black Clover

Length – Regular
Studio – Studio Pierrot
Director – Tatsuya Yoshihara (Yatterman Night, Monster Musume)

Two orphans, Asta and Yuno, both aim to become the Wizard King. Yuno is a magical prodigy, and is awarded a four-leaf clover grimoire used by former Kings. Asta has no magical power, but ends up with a five-leaf clover grimoire, letting him tap into demonic powers, as the two rival’s aim to rise to the top.

The Good – Nice to see magic in a more rural setting, with people using it for farming and so forth. I also really like Yuno’s character design, though he looks way older than the 15 years he’s supposed to be. Some great backgrounds and visuals too, like the terrifying huge skeleton that serves as a backdrop for the village. Plus it seeds some backstory elements nicely without expanding upon them.

The Bad – Asta is the definition of a dumb shouty shōnen lead. The show drags out scenes and gags quite regularly too, leading to a fairly non-ending cliffhanger where it really needed to bring some action. It’s inconsistent at times too, having characters not fight or vanish and reappear for no reason.

The VerdictUNLIKELY

I’d always heard of Black Clover, but never about it, and now I can see why. It’s a perfectly well put together shōnen, but has nothing unique or interesting that makes it stand out. The visuals are alright, the characters okay (if you can look past loud mcloudface) and there’s a standard long-term goal. Just… I could say that of most shōnen series. One for the fans, but not really worth it otherwise.

Sengoku Night Blood

Length – Regular ~ 12 eps
Studio – Typhoon Graphics
Director – Katsuya Kikuchi (Idol Memories, Royal Tutor)

One day, a girl from our time is randomly sent back to the task, and turns out to be the key in a very different Sengoku war, where the various factions include vampires, werewolves, shinobi and more. Also her blood gives the lead vampire superpowers. Because.

The Good – Some nice background visuals and skyscapes, including very pretty starry skies. I liked a lot of the flamboyant clothing worn by most of the cast too. Also good to see various factions deploying tactics and leaders getting injured.

The Bad – The first ten minutes are a whistlestop tour of all the characters of various hair colours and ear shapes, with none leaving an impression as you wait to go back to our viewpoint character to try and ground yourself. Weird filters and effects throughout, including everyone looking like they’re drowning in sunlight. And fights came across as really flat and uninteresting.

The VerdictDROPPED

Maybe if you’re more intimate with this period of Japan the whirlstorm of names and faces in the first half would be digestible, but considering how little relevance they have on the rest of the episode, having them take up so much time here was ill-advised, especially with the supernatural elements to also process. The show doesn’t have anything else to fall back on either. Pretty disappointing, all in all.

Cinderella Girls Gekijou 2

Length – Short
Studio – Gathering
Director – Mankyuu (Puchimas, Gundam-san)

Second season of Cinderella Girls Theater and spinoff of Idolm@ster. Airs twice weekly, with different episodes online and on TV. More tales of how the various girls from the Idolm@ster franchise kill time with each other.

The Good – Colours are bright, the chibi style designs work and I liked one of the jokes about looking to the stars.

The Bad – It’s a nothing show. Some girls you may or may not know from Idolm@ster say maybe a couple of lines and then that’s it. One of the jokes doesn’t even get a payoff as you never see the girl’s face. And yes, the Producer is shown neck down, as always.

The VerdictDROPPED

Even if you love Idolm@ster, I dunno what you’d get out of this. It’s not like there’s any singing and dancing outside of the ending. Or any substance whatsoever. And in a season where the reigning queen of idol franchises Love Live is back, that just doesn’t cut it.

Juuni Taisen

Length – Regular ~ 12 eps
Studio – Graphinica
Director – Naoto Hosoda (The Devil is a Part-Timer, Future Diary)

aka Zodiac War. Every twelve years the Juuni Taisen takes place, a battle royale fight to the death for 12 competitors named after the Chinese Zodiac. The prize for this high-stakes game is to have any one wish granted, but only if you can kill everyone else before the clock strikes zero.

The Good – This show has atmosphere, from the large and empty city to the eccentric and unhinged personalities and character designs to the way it carries itself in dialogue and presentation. It seems like we’ll get time dedicated to each character as well to expound upon how life took them down this path. Plus some of the action scenes were cool.

The Bad – Having one character narrate the episode in a condescending tone got old about half way through. Also the narrative would sometimes sacrifice logic for bombast, with the backstory of this episode’s focal character having a few holes in the name of making her look more sadistic. And to counter an earlier point, some of the action scenes were lacking in-betweens too.

The VerdictPOSSIBLY

Battle royales aren’t anything new in anime, but it is nice to see one deliver, or at least seem to in this first episode. There’s certainly plenty of potential here for engaging action scenes between the various fighters, and to expound upon them through backstory. My main worry is whether the show can keep up its momentum throughout while also delivering an interesting narrative, but it’s definitely one to keep an eye on.

Shokugeki no Souma: San no Sara

Length – Regular ~ 24 eps
Studio – J.C. Staff
Director – Yonetani Yoshitomo (Food Wars, Vatican Miracle Examiner)

Third season of Food Wars, aka Food Wars: The Third Plate. Having set his sights on a position in the Elite Ten, Souma now tries to earn the right to challenge one of them for their spot, using the upcoming Moon Festival as a starting point. But against the best of the best, will he rise to the challenge or end up expelled?

The Good – The Elite Ten and the Moon Festival have focused Food Wars in a way it hadn’t been before, providing an alternate way to battle outside of cliché tournament arcs which requires a far different attitude to standard shōnen clashes (probably). I also dig the simple artstyle the show uses for comedy skits, and speaking of which, seeing a guy in a naked apron was cool and different.

The Bad – The odd random fanservice that comes from your manga being helmed by a porn artist is still about. And the usual shōnen trope of whatever the focus is being the most important thing ever just because is still around. As is the lead character being unfathomably stupid in some areas, not even able to read rules or do research into the thing he’s entering.

The VerdictPOSSIBLY

Certainly this season opener of Food Wars exceeded my expectations. As an arc this makes for a far more interesting affair instead of predictable tournaments, and while there was some fanservice and some shōnen stupidty, it didn’t detract too much. With the right pacing and some interesting narrative for the support cast, this third season could turn out solid.

Osake wa Fuufu ni Natte kara

Length – Short ~ 13 eps
Studio – Creators in Pack
Director – Tachibana Saori (Miss Bernard Said)

Chisato is a talented businesswoman who secretly loves alcohol and lets her hair down when drunk. So her husband Sora is always sure to have a drink ready for when she gets home. Cue this cutesy comedy about drunken adorableness. Or something like that.

The Good – Adults. In anime. Crazy. Also an actual husband and wife, not onii-chan or any such weird nonsense that anime adores. Cool that it shows you the recipe for the drink he prepares too, so if you want to learn how to make some cocktails it’ll tell you.

The Bad – Haha she’s more wuvy-dovy when she’s drunk that’s it that’s the entire show. Also I never get why anime portrays people as getting tipsy within literal seconds or drinking. Plus if you need to get your wife drunk to find her cute… er…

The VerdictDROPPED

Even putting aside some of the more questionable aspects of the narrative, there’s just nothing to this show besides the one-note punchline. And you can google how to make cocktails. There’s no reason to watch, so… don’t.

So no winners this time on Takes… I mean, first episode impressions. Though a few shows that did come close and will be added to the mythical backlog we all have but never get to. Come back for Part 2 later in the week for the return of Fireball and… We Love Rice… yeah. Part 3 will be good. Promise.