samuraiyokaininjaYotsuba
Anime 1st episodes 2016: N
Including: The Nameko Families, Nanbaka, Naria Girls, Naruto Shippuden, Natsume's Book of Friends Five, Nazotokine, Neko Neko Nihonshi, New Game! Season 1, Noblesse: Awakening, Ninja Girl & Samurai Master, Norn9: Norn + Nanot, Nurse Witch Komugi-chan R, Nyanbo!
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2016
Series: << Anime 1st episodes 2016 >>, << Yotsuba
Keywords: anime, SF, fantasy, yokai, magical girl, vampires, ninja, samurai, historical
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 13 first episodes
Website category: Anime 1st eps
Review date: 9 December 2017
Listed under "A": Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko ja Nai to Omotta, aka. And You Thought There Is Never a Girl Online?
Listed under "A": Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou no Alderamin, aka. Alderamin on the Sky
Listed under "R": Nijiiro Days, aka. Rainbow Days
Listed under "S": Nanatsu no Taizai: Seisen no Shirushi, aka. The Seven Deadly Sins
Nameko Sekai no Tomodachi
The Nameko Families
Nameko: Sekai no Tomodachi
Season 1
Episodes: 13 x 5 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: children's anime about mushrooms
It's a five-minute short-form series about mushrooms. A nameko (aka. Pholiota microspora) is a popular Japanese mushroom. These ones aren't so much mushroom-shaped as microphone-shaped, although you're free to make phallic jokes if you like. Our mushroom friends get some little mushrooms, chop them up, dump them into boiling water and eat them. This isn't supposed to be disturbing. I repeat: not disturbing. It's normal family behaviour, complete with the greedy family member who keeps swiping the best food from the hot pot before you.
There's no dialogue. It's just mushrooms doing family stuff. It looks perfectly good for what it is, but I didn't feel the need to watch any more.
nan baka
Nanbaka
Nanbaka: The Numbers
Season 1
Episodes: 13 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: annoying boys try to escape from prison
I saw it cited by more than one reviewer as the worst show of Autumn 2016 and neither of them mentioned the reason I disliked this first episode. They watched the whole series and complained about pacing, tonal shifts, unrealised potential, etc. I have the more straightforward issue that I want to feed the main characters through a wood chipper.
Firstly, do a google image search for "nanbaka". Warning: your eyeballs will burst. You'll need to convalesce afterwards. Yes, the show really does have all those colours, as well as hairstyles that go beyond "absurd" into a realm that I almost admire. We're following four smug, grinning show-offs as they try to escape from a super-prison. They look simply fabulous, darling, but that doesn't compensate for their insufferably full-of-themselves personalities. They're cool. They pose. I think the intention is for the audience to find them funny, or at least tolerable.
The prison wardens are comedy silly billies, while the super-prison's traps come from Star Wars and Indiana Jones.
No no no no no. I'm told that it improves, but no. Mind you, my anime-watching friend at work watched all of this season and particularly liked the opening theme music. Personally I wouldn't praise it as highly as he does, but I think I see what he likes about it.
naria-girls
Naria Girls
Mahou Shoujo Naria Girls
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 8 minutes
Keep watching: if you love the worst of all things
One-line summary: CGI abomination
Watching this show is almost the anime-watching equivalent of extreme sports, but unfortunately it's also boring. "It doesn't get worse than this," you'll realise. "I've climbed the pinnacle. If anime producers got any lazier than this, they'd be broadcasting a blank screen."
We start with a super-cheap CGI title sequence, rendered with "We're Not Spending Any Money" software. I believe its official name is Kigurumi Live Animator KiLA, which renders pseudo-animation through motion capture. The show then begins with nothing moving on-screen at all. They're still frames. Occasionally the camera pans or zooms a bit. You'll be excited when some eyes blink.... but there's also a voice-over! A high school girl introduces us to her two friends, saying that one of them is a foul-mouthed flat-chested idiot and that the other has huge boobs from which stuff sometimes comes out. Nice.
After that, the CGI motion capture begins. The voice actresses are improvising, but they have no talent for improvisation. I think the word is "rambling". On-screen we see their CGI avatars wobble about, at one point phasing through each other like ghosts because the CGI software can't handle collisions.
This is most of the episode.
After that, a monster appears and the girls turn into magical girls. WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT??? Answer: the closing credits, which are an idol concert.
It ended with my mouth hanging open. This show is amazing, but not in a good way.
shippuden naruto
Naruto Shippuden
Naruto Shippuuden
Episode 444 (out of 500, or 720 if you include the parent series)
24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: shounen adventure series about ninja
Naruto was the most popular manga/anime in America for about a decade. It outsold everything else by a lot, as Dragonball had in the 1990s. What's more, it was still huge when it ended (manga in 2014, anime in 2017). The nearest Naruto got to unpopularity was to fall from top five to top ten.
That said, though, it's still a standard shounen adventure series. I was watching ep.444, so I wasn't expecting much. Yeah, it's a bit slow. We start with a ninja (Sasuke) saying the Obligatory Shounen Motivation (i.e. "I'm going to get stronger!") as he knocks guards unconscious and burns someone to death. The latter was an illusion, though, so his victim's okay.
After that, the show's heroes hang around in a classroom and have a conversation. Apparently Sasuke's going off to meet someone bad. Eventually they follow him and have a fight with some other ninja, in which no one gets killed or injured despite almost everyone using bladed weapons. Not a drop of blood. However a couple of (male) heroes get some non-revealing clothing damage, from which they infer that their enemies are trying to kill them.
The episode seems fine. It didn't really contain anything of interest, but it's fine. If I'd watched the other 443 episodes, I'm sure it would have been a perfectly acceptable continuation of the story. It's an adventure show about ninja having fights. Preliminary verdict: probably not recommended if you're over twelve.
Natsume Yuujin-chou
Natsume's Book of Friends
Natsume's Book of Friends Five
Natsume Yuujin-chou
Natsume Yuujin-chou Go
Season 5
Episodes: 11 x 25 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: gentle series about a teenage boy who can see yokai
I've since finished this season and... it was okay, but I don't feel the need to catch up with the others.
This one's pretty well-known, in its way. The anime's been running since 2008 (although not continuously) and the manga since 2005. Natsume's a boy whose grandmother used to go around defeating youkai. It's got a reputation for being slow-paced and heartwarming, but I found this episode more sombre than I'd expected.
It's about Natsume trying to find out more about his yokai-vanquishing grandmother, Reiko. No one has anything positive to say about her, it seems. She was "weird", or even "not right in the head". When Natsume asks yokai, he doesn't get much joy from them either. An unnaturally rolling pot-dwelling yokai confuses Natsume with Reiko and starts demanding with threats that he return a stolen doll. Natsume hadn't expected to find himself being accused of theft.
We find out what really happened. Natsume sorts it out. Everything's resolved satisfactorily, but I wouldn't call it a particularly upbeat story since Natsume can't fix what everyone's always thought about his granny. We learn that she smiled a lot, though. Ah well. I'd been expecting to continue with this series and I will, but so far I haven't felt inspired to go back and rewatch everything from the beginning. Let's see if I feel differently after eleven episodes.
nazo toki ne
Nazotokine
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 7.5 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: girl does puzzles
Our heroine is Tokine Amano, a sexy girl who's also an otaku! She talks to her friends at work, who are also sexy! Then, suddenly, the world disintegrates and she's talking to a pig-rabbit who's in two top hats.
It has some puzzles that she'll have to do if she ever wants to leave the puzzle dimension of Quizun, but firstly she needs a transformation sequence into a skintight bodysuit! Then the end credits rolled. I watched ep.2, because Amano hadn't done any puzzles yet in this puzzle show, but the puzzle wasn't actually that interesting. I see no reason to continue with this.
Neko Neko Nihonsi
Neko Neko Nihonshi
Season 1
9 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: history show with cats, for very young children
The internet says that "important figures of Japanese history like Queen Himiko, the warlord Oda Nobunaga, and samurai Sakamoto Ryouma tell their stories except they're cats." It's based on a four-panel manga. I wouldn't exactly call it boring, but at some point I realised I wasn't sure what had just happened because I'd stopped paying attention.
This episode's about Queen Himiko (c.170-248 AD). It's the distant past and cats are fighting. (That's true; she ended decades of civil war in the ancient kingdom of Wa.) Himiko stops the fighting, buys a gold statue and visits China. She has a big brother and at one point her kingdom is attacked by purple cats.
That's it. I'd recommend it to no one over the age of five or so, unless you really like cats.
New Game
New Game!
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes + a thirteenth OVA
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: women working at a games company
I've since finished it and... it's lovely and funny.
It seems nice. Aoba Suzukaze graduates from high school and gets a job at the games company of her dreams! They made her favourite game! On joining, she finds that some of her new colleagues are eccentric, but none are total whackos and they seem like a nice bunch who get on with their work.
That's it, really. The show's content doesn't seem very exciting. Women sit at their desks all day, drawing character designs or programming computers. However everyone except Hifumi is happy to answer questions, or even stop for tea and biscuits. (Hifumi has anxiety issues. You won't get much joy from saying words to her face, but she's lovely if you open up a computer chat program.)
I'm sure it'll be fine. I presume the show will find a way around the problem of "everyone's quietly working at their desks". It's a gentle workplace comedy, which certainly doesn't make it unique (e.g. Working, Servant x Service) but is still a good deal rarer than school anime. I wouldn't say it's got me excited, but I'm willing to keep going and see what happens.
Noblesse Awakening
Noblesse: Awakening
One-off OVA
31 minutes
Keep watching: n/a
One-line summary: vampires vs. vampires
Every so often, Tomoko will call an anime "chuunibyou". This is a word normally applied to people, but as it happens I'd say that's a perfect description of this anime.
LITERAL TRANSLATION OF "CHUUNIBYOU": second year of middle school disease, i.e. age 14 or so.
VAGUE BROAD IDEA: someone who wants to believe that they're unique and special, so they start pretending to be something they're not. Usually a bit painful to watch.
TYPE #1: maintains the fictional pose of being a criminal gang member, delinquent, etc.
TYPE #2: only follows niche or non-mainstream trends even against their real tastes, because they think that makes them cool.
TYPE #3: claims to have mystical hidden powers that can destroy the world. Will often call themselves the Forbidden Dark Lord of something. Borders on delusional.
Anyway, this anime.
It begins with an info-dump. Vampires are higher than humans, but the Noblesse are higher than vampires! Wow! We then get an old-school vampire opening, with a coffin being winched out of the sea and a killer saying on the phone that "I've killed all my friends, but I can't open it!"
Then, though, the moonlight shines down! The coffin opens! And the person who comes out is... AN ENIGMATIC PRETTY-BOY WHO STANDS THERE LOOKING COOL!
Estimated age: seventeen. He's 820 years old and called Cadis Etrama Di Raizel, which is the one genuine surprise here because I'd been assuming he was Dracula. (Vlad Dracula's slightly younger.) He then goes to school. No, really. He goes to high school, giving himself a swirly demonic clothes-change while he's walking along. Nobody notices because... um, because that's how cool he is. He has an old friend, there, you see! This old friend calls him "Master" and appears to be another vampire or something, but is called Frankenstein. Um, okay.
Frankenstein's another ENIGMATIC PRETTY-BOY WHO ST... okay, you get the picture. We're not told how Not-Dracula knew to find him there, but I'll assume psychic powers.
Not-Dracula then goes to class. Why? The girls in class burn with jealousy when he sits next to a boy. Not-Dracula even makes some friends, for a loose definition of "friend".
We also realise that the Japanese voice actors aren't saying the names in the English subtitles. This is a Japanese OVA based on a Korean web comic, so the actors are saying "Yuu" while the subtitles say "Shinwu". I always find this really distracting.
All that said, though, I liked the show's villains. They're ultra-violent killers who feed on (thoroughly deserving) victims, murder each other and have flashbacks about slaughtering everyone in a lab. There's an Organisation with upper and lower ranks. You don't want to be in the latter. This OVA's pretty good once the plot gets going, actually. I enjoyed it. Not-Dracula and Frankenstein are indeed pretty cool once they're letting rip on monsters, especially Not-Dracula. He doesn't even need to fight. He can just order the demons to kneel, even if they're in the middle of a Godzilla transformation and about to decapitate him.
The chuunibyou doesn't go away, though. "That terrifying energy!" gasps a villainness in awe. "What can it be?"
Underneath, this is a pretty good story. The villains are great. The heroes are a bit distracting, but that needn't be a problem if you know what you're letting yourself in for and not letting yourself be distracted. The chuunibyou is easy to mock, but not actually that important. This manages to be more memorable than most one-off OVAs, anyway.
Nobunaga no Shinobi
Ninja Girl & Samurai Master
Nobunaga no Shinobi
Season 1
Episodes: 52 x 3.5 minutes
Keep watching: ...yes
One-line summary: cute ninja and samurai in the 16th century
I've since finished it and... it's okay. Sometimes amusing. More historically accurate than I'd expected.
It's based on a four-panel gag manga about a ninja in the Warring States Period. She's small, polite and cute. She's also good at killing people, but she's a terribly nice girl who'd prefer not to do that if possible. She meets Oda Nobunaga... and is impressed by his idealistic principles (huh?). Well, it's a gag manga.
"Is it your goal to make your land bigger too?"
"Make my land bigger? It's because such small men are fighting without considering the people that these troubled times have lasted a hundred years. I only have but one dream: to end these troubled times."
It has some charm, actually. It's of no possible importance, but I enjoyed it.
Norn Nine
Norn9: Norn + Nanot
Norn9
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: amazing world, but it's an otome game adaptation
I've since finished it and... it's a mess, but I bet the original game is much more impressive. I was wrong about the significance of the other two girls, though.
It's fascinating. I don't understand the title. (Norn Nine Norn Nanot?) I don't understand its world. It appears to be a world-ship with steampunk flavourings where everyone on board has powers and a mission. It's dangerous for the unwary. Take a wrong step and you can fall twenty or thirty metres. Imagine Kew Gardens as a spaceship. I want to keep watching, because I find this SF setting huge, tantalising and exciting.
On the other hand, though, it's a reverse-harem show. The cast contains three kinds of character:
[FEMALE PROTAGONIST] mysterious female heroine who can't remember her name
[MALE HAREM] lots of charming boys who deny that they're being flirtatious and/or chatting you up. Well, except for Senri. He's grumpy and he says that everyone's going to end up as enemies when they're sent to different nations. I'm not sure what that means either.
[TOKEN GENDER-BALANCING] a couple of rather cold girls who feel as if their story role is to be obstacles.
I'll keep going, though. No problem. I'm a little nervous about whether the cast will prove to be too flat, but I'm interested.
Witch Nurse Komugi-chan
Nurse Witch Komugi-chan R
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: magical girl semi-parody, but she's also an idol
Dunno why they called it Nurse Witch Komugi-chan. It shares very little with the original 2002-2005 OVAs, as far as I can see, beyond a few names. Maybe the "R" in the title is for "reboot"? (Mind you, those OVAs had even less to do with their own parent series, The SoulTaker.) The most important difference though is that I managed to get through the OVAs, whereas I'll be ditching this 2016 overhaul.
We begin with an inexpensively computer-generated anime girl doing an idol concert. It's as if the showrunners were going for the world speed record for making the audience decide not to watch this series. In fact it's all a dream, but even so the fact remains that the show chose to start its first episode with that. Yeesh. Anyway, our heroine Komugi is a fourteen-year-old schoolgirl who's also both an idol and a nurse. Live concerts and treating patients? That must keep her busy. (Mind you, she hadn't been a nurse in the OVAs even though it's in the title, so that's a step forward.) However her best friend at school is an even more successful idol who's top of the class in all subjects, is currently making a movie and is also the student council president. Why was she allowed on the ballot? Shouldn't they have picked someone who had enough free time to do the job?
We meet a rapping girl who says "yo", because the show's trying to kill me. One of her friends acts as her translator.
A magical mascot animal shows up. I'll call him Bloated Dead Rat. He says "pyon" at the end of all his sentences. There's a mild subversion of magical girl parodies when Komugi isn't embarrassed by her magical girl outfit, to the surprise of Bloated Dead Rat. There's also some technobabble to explain the magical transformation sequence, which includes the fact that the magic rebuilds Komugi's body. That's a bit scary.
There's a daft monster-of-the-week that plays pranks on a movie that's being filmed. This is actually mildly creative and my favourite bit of the episode. There are gag references to other anime, e.g. classic Yatterman turning into Yatterman Night.
I quite like magical girl shows, but I'm dropping this one. I hadn't been expecting to, after my underwhelmed reaction to the OVAs, but I found this actively off-putting with the idol concerts (plural), the rapping girl, the implausible premise and to some extent the characterisation of Komugi. She tends to label things as either cute or gross. She's terrified to the point of paralysis by cockroaches. How has she managed to survive in Japan? That said, though, the show looks fairly standard as magical girl parodies go and I expect I could watch it all if I wanted. It seems competent, lively and reasonably imaginative. It's okay.
Nyanbo
Nyanbo!
Season 1
Episodes: 26 x 5 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: CGI anime spin-off of "Yotsuba&!" about tiny Danbo-like cat aliens
"Yotsuba&!" is a wonderful manga about a dauntingly energetic five-year-old girl called Yotsuba. I'd watch an anime adaptation of that until my eyes fell out, but this is not that show. (Yotsuba herself is in the fifteen-second closing credits sequence, but the show isn't even set in the same fictional universe.) Instead it's inspired by Danbo, the cardboard robot that her friends built one day. The joke with Danbo is that he's a ridiculously unconvincing disguise made of cardboard boxes and you'd have to be as gullible as Yotsuba to believe in him. He's not real. There's a schoolgirl inside him.
This show, though, is about little CGI cat-aliens who look like him. They could stand on the end of your little finger. They're sort of vaguely cute-ish, assuming you're not sick yet of self-consciously cute Japanese cat-things that say "nyan", but they don't really do anything meaningful and there's not much point in watching this show if you're older than Yotsuba. I'm sure she'd like it, though.
Visually, it's a show of tiny CGI creatures in live-action footage of a Japanese city, including a real cat. That was a bit ambitious from the show's producers. The cat's eyelines are handled less badly than you might think, but they're still inconsistent. In short: the show seems peaceful and amiable. I'm sure I could get through it happily enough if I wanted to, but equally I'm not feeling the slightest urge to do so, despite my fondness for "Yotsuba&!".