Spring 2016 Anime – Mid-season Impressions

5 May , 2016,
Panther
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Suzunoki Rin

And, at last, we have the mid-season impressions of the season! First however, I must point your attention to the Kumamoto earthquakes that have devastated the island of Kyuushuu in southern Japan. I can only help in my very small way to pray for them and ask that others pray or even send help to them, even if it is a very small gesture. They need all the support and help they can get.

Due to the Kumamoto quake reports pre-empting certain channels, three series were pushed back a week in terms of their airing schedule. This is why, instead of a 3-episode impression, this post is about impressions as of about week 5 of the season, which is almost mid-season. Most series are at episode 5 now, with the exception of some, and I will denote the current episode the series is at around the time of this post.

The format of the post is in order of the lowest tier to the highest tier. Again, as it is a subjective ranking, you are free and welcome to dispute which show is actually better or worse in your opinion. I merely give mine as to how the shows have been doing thus far for me.

Dropped Shows

Onigiri – Sorry, but I did try for two episodes. And both episodes made me nearly want to bleach my brain out. They were totally lacking in both depth and quality. While that was to be expected, I think it was even worse than I had anticipated. If you want your constant 3-minute plus of dumb and dumber laughter every week, feel free to catch this.

*****

D-Tier

Big Order

Big Order
Current Episode: 3
Rating: D

I did not even think I would bother to keep watching any D-ranked anime series, but Big Order simply takes the cake. This show is so bad in execution, it never fails to make me go “WTF?”. Honestly, the only reason I am continuing is to see if it could get any worse, or at least have some redeeming factor in its quality. I am guessing the readers of the original material probably already dropped it. Even if you had some interest in this one at the start of the season, it would be best to let it go right here and now, because it is unlikely that it will have any more potential left to try and carry it through.

C-Tier

Bakuon!!

Bakuon!!
Current Episode: 5
Rating: C

Unfortunately for Bakuon, while it certainly appeals to many bike riders for its portrayal of bikers, the show itself has little to no plot, and is very shallow in terms of quality. Still, there is something to be said for girls actually riding bikes, which is a very unusual combination where the two are concerned. Coupled with the focus on bikes and the girls’ unending love for their own particular brands and bikes, it actually is a pretty decent niche anime. That still means not many will find themselves getting into it however, and truly, taking away the premise, it ends up just another “cute girls doing cute things” show, without many of the “cute things” either.

*****

B-Tier

Sousei no Onmyouji

Sousei no Onmyouji
Twin Star Exorcists
Current Episode: 5
Rating: B-

Twin Star Exorcists started out really nice, but like the other two predecessors, series about exorcists, suddenly began to fall short starting with the second episode. It has become something of a more generic series rather than actually striking out to be good, with the plot regarding the twin stars themselves shoved to the background with little regard for the viewer. I would have loved to see them extend more of the plot rather than focusing so much on the fights with the enemies, though it can also be said that in the second half, I guess we might see more of the plot development. Still, it feels a little too slow, and I am afraid we might be in for a rushed end more than anything. Pity, considering the series actually had some potential.

Mayoiga

Mayoiga
The Lost Village
Current Episode: 5
Rating: B-

Now I had high hopes for this one, but so far, it has turned out to be more of a mish-mash of many elements rather than one coherent plot development plodding along. The interactions are what make up the show, yes, but even so, it is difficult to know exactly where the viewer is supposed to be headed to. I suppose one could say that, as per its title, that might be exactly what the series intends to do – to lose the viewer until the very end when it all becomes clearer, but for now, it is sufficient to say that it might be more worthwhile to wait for the series to finish before actually deciding on starting it, to hear what others have to say. Indeed, it might be as someone said – that Mayoiga is best experienced rather than talked or thought about.

High School Fleet

Haifuri
High School Fleet
Current Episode: 4
Rating: B-

What started out as a cute-girls-doing-cute-things premise quickly moved into an almost different territory immediately. I came into this show expecting a more relaxed atmosphere, maybe some combat, but it would be lighthearted like the combat in Girls und Panzer was. Man, it turned out to be one of the shows that would quickly become one of the variants of the “What I watched, What I expected, What I saw” meme. Haifuri is certainly similar to Girls und Panzer, which should come as no surprise since the creator is the same, but the story so far has been very different from what most of us expected. The closest analogy would be “The Hunt for Red October”, as the girls find themselves suddenly under the onslaught of other ships, and yes, fired upon with live ammunition. Despite that, the girls-doing-things part still has not let up, and it is a nice look at life at sea if in a slightly different way. It certainly is very entertaining, but it still might not be for everyone, considering its military backdrop trying to mesh up with high school girls.

Ushio to Tora

Ushio to Tora
Ushio & Tora
Current Episode: 5 (31)
Rating: B

Ushio to Tora, or Ushitora, continues its second cour after a 3-month break, bringing us ever closer to the final showdown between Ushio, Tora, and Hakumen no Mono. A series reminiscent of the art style of the 90’s, Ushitora has actually been a bit weaker this season compared to the first, for me anyway. It is hard to pinpoint the exact reason why, but perhaps there was just too huge a sudden jump in terms of how they moved the plot at the very start of this season. Nevertheless, it is still a treat for those who prefer such an art style, and a more straightforward story-line development.

Kuromukuro

Kuromukuro
Current Episode: 4
Rating: B

There is no real English translation for this, though I thought at first it meant “Chrome Black”. It could certainly be read that way, but the revelation that the mecha our samurai protagonist rides is called a “mukuro”, it simply might just mean “Black Relic”. In any case, the mecha show of the season with an original story has not disappointed at least in the mecha department, though its interactions between the samurai from an age past, and the current-day next-to-useless high school girl have also patched up the story somewhat. There is still much to learn about the “demons”, which are what the enemy mecha units are referred to as, but at the moment, its slightly humorous side combined with its possible mecha action and sci-fi elements combine to make it at least a decent show of the season to watch out for in the mecha arena.

Kiznaiver

Kiznaiver
Current Episode: 4
Rating: B

Kiznaiver, being Trigger’s foray into the original this season, has certainly lived up to its Trigger quality in terms of animation and art style. The story is also at least plodding along at a fine pace, which is more than I can say for some other shows with the same amount of anticipation I had for them and Kiznaiver this season. The dynamics of the group of very different personalities coming together to try and solve issues or pass missions together has been entertaining as well, and I can only say that, while it might not be as good as one might expect, it can still be a very fun ride, and there is definitely potential for it to close out the season with a bang.

Kumamiko

Kumamiko
Girl Meets Bear
Current Episode: 5
Rating: B+

Also known as Pedobear the Animation, Kumamiko has actually been surprisingly nice this season for its type. I might have given it a B after some reflection, but it also is noteworthy of praise for its deadpan humor and the comedy it tries to bring across. Machi is more than just hopeless at modern technology and understanding – she is practically the epitome of someone who could be called a “country bumpkin”. The humor that arises from Natsu, the bear, trying to teach her about technology and the ways of the world outside her village has been a treat for the mind every week. If you like some simpler humor coupled with some character pushing on the side, this definitely is a series to watch.

Concrete Revolutio

Concrete Revolutio Choujin Gensou The Last Song
Concrete Revolutio Superhuman Phantasmagora The Last Song
Current Episode: 5
Rating: B+

Conrevo, as it is abbreviated to in Japan, continues with its second cour, bringing back all the confusing and yet somehow entertaining story-telling methods it is well-known for. More of it has, however, tied itself to an overarching plot compared to the previous season, which is to be expected as they start patching up the loopholes they purposely left behind in the first season. It still goes anywhere it likes though, to fighting a goddess while trying to get rid of sunflowers on people’s heads, to trying to pin down two devils even as one of them simply used his voice to bring people together. Conrevo is a series that cannot be described, only experienced, and if you were invested in the first season, this second season will definitely not disappoint.

Kayano Kaede

Ansatsu Kyoushitsu
Assassination Classroom
Current Episode: 16
Rating: B+

One of the three shows pushed back by the Kumamoto quake news reporting, Assassination Classroom (or AC as I will refer to it) has got a lot better since its shaky start for the second season. There have once again been many instances of showing just how teachers ought to be during this season, and now, we head toward the climax of the story as the manga has already ended. While it would have gone into the A-category for its strong emphasis on just how teacher-student relations should be, and how a teacher should be, I find the animation quality and some small other things lacking, dropping it to the B+ part. It still is a pretty good show, though perhaps just that little bit niche in character.

*****

A-Tier

Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko ja nai to Omotta?

Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko ja nai to Omotta?
And you thought there is never a girl online?
Current Episode: 4
Rating: A-

Another adaptation with a long title, Netoge (as it is commonly abbreviated to) has been surprisingly entertaining, certainly more so than one would expect out of a possible “harem” series. The show itself is hardly a harem piece at all though, with the smothering love of Ako, our female protagonist, simply overwhelming everything else in her path so far. She is also the one who cannot distinguish between real life and the game itself, which makes for some really hilarious situations, such as when she realized her wallet was left at home, and she tried to clear her inventory in order to buy a drink.

Aside from that, the animation has been pretty good, jumping between both the game they play and their real life, as they (conveniently) all go to the same school. The girls also look really nice even for anime-style girls, and there certainly is a lot more humor of the type MMORPG players would like than almost any other show this season even close in the genre. Give this one a try if you are a player of MMORPGs, or just want to see the comedy that ensues between mixing up real life and games.

Sakamoto desu ga?

Sakamoto desu ga?
Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto
Current Episode: 3
Rating: A-

Cool. Cooler. Coolest. That is the motto Sakamoto goes by, even if he does not explicitly state it. This guy is just so amazingly fabulous, he is unbeatable. Sakamoto is that one guy you would love to hate, except you just cannot. From being able to save a mere swallow in typhoon-speed winds, to being able to fulfill the whims of an unbearable upperclassman to the point where he becomes the unbearable one, Sakamoto can just do it all. And most importantly, he can do it all stylishly. There is a reason why the manga has won a prestigious award, and the animation certainly brings that point across very well as we marvel at just Sakamoto can do. In fact, is there anything he cannot do, and anything that he cannot do stylishly?

Sakamoto desu ga? is another of the three shows pushed back.

Joker Game

Joker Game
Current Episode: 5
Rating: A-

Joker Game is one of those extraordinary series that comes along every once in a while and shakes up what people would normally define of cartoons, or even Japanese anime itself. It focuses on the workings of a clandestine agency established in Japan before the start of World War II, where 8 outstanding spies have been trained and then scattered to the various parts of the world to gather intelligence for Japan. The first two episodes showed how the agency and its founder, Colonel Yuuki, worked and thought, and the next three have focused on individuals within the 8 as they work around the world.

It has been a very intriguing look into the world of espionage, and the way these men’s minds think. I might verily put forth that the concepts of thinking they go through in order to be a successful spy could even be applied to some aspects of real life itself in the modern world. The series itself is certainly well worth a try if you are even remotely into thrillers that have less action, and more of the trappings of the stuff that goes on in the background.

Koutetsujou no Kabaneri

Koutetsujou no Kabaneri
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
Current Episode: 3
Rating: A-

From the author of Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) comes a very similar series, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress. If you thought that they were just clones though, you are dead wrong (pun intended). Kabaneri, in its first episode, showed exactly why it could rise above and beyond Attack on Titan with a protagonist that actually does not suck as hard at what he should be doing! Ikoma practically nearly killed himself just to ensure that he would not turn into a Kabane, the bane of humanity.

No other spoilers should be given, but let us just say that Sawano Hiroyuki, the BGM composer for both series, has returned to get more of his signature work playing while we enjoy the hack-and-slash action that Kabaneri’s Mumei (pictured above) gives us. Meanwhile, the plot itself is, of course, almost non-existent, but who needs much of a plot when all the focus is on the great action that surpasses even Attack on Titan’s, as well as the people who are giving the others hope against the Kabane, Ikoma and Mumei? This certainly is a series that needs to be given more attention in the action realm than almost any other series this season, and is a much better show by itself compared to its predecessor.

Kabaneri was also one of the three series pushed back by the Kumamoto quake’s news reporting.

Boku no Hero Academia

Boku no Hero Academia
My Hero Academia
Current Episode: 5
Rating: A+

My Hero Academia has certainly lived up to the hype, with dashing good animation, the emphasis on superheroes using their powers to help the common citizenry, and the tale of a boy who would start from the most fatal of all starting positions to rise up, all through his own hard work, his own motivation, and a miraculous encounter with the number one hero of his time. There is a lot to feel for in this show – the heroes putting down the villains and doing their best to save the people, Midoriya trying his own best despite his lack of talent and ability to become a hero, and the music that certainly accompanies the show’s development very well. This certainly is one of the defining shows of spring, and there is little to deny that it will likely keep this up all season.

*****

S-Tier

Flying Witch

Flying Witch
Current Episode: 4
Rating: S-

Few slice-of-life shows have managed to combine the quietness and stability of a more rural lifestyle with the magical world of witches and fantasy, but Flying Witch has just done that very superbly. As a slice-of-life show, the pacing is certainly very slow, and focuses more instead on our new up-and-coming witch, Kowata Makoto, and her experiences as she lives with her relatives in rural Hokkaido.

The slow pacing, the focus more on the character interactions, especially on Makoto’s stranger acquaintances, as well as appropriate use of some anime-style emotional faces and humor that is done just right, have all combined to make Flying Witch, thus far, the highest single subjectively scored anime series across the board for me.

*****

And there you have it, the impressions of the season thus far. That sure is a lot of shows to be following, but again, that does not mean that the season is better than others. After all, look at how many ranked in the middle. Still, it is indeed a season with plenty to offer for various tastes, and I hope you will be able to find a series that goes for your taste in this bunch. Enjoy the spring anime season!