baseballAttack on TitanAssassination ClassroomAikatsu
Anime 1st episodes 2015: A
Including: Absolute Duo, Ace of Diamond: Second Season, Aikatsu!!, Aldnoah.Zero (Season 2), Ani Tore! EX, Anti-Magic Academy: The 35th Test Platoon, Aoharu x Machinegun, Aquarion Logos, Aria no Avvenire, Aria the Scarlet Ammo Double A, Assassination Classroom (2015 anime), The Asterisk War: The Academy City on the Water (Season 1), Attack on Titan: Junior High
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2015
Series: Anime 1st episodes 2015 >>
Keywords: Assassination Classroom, The Asterisk War, Attack on Titan, Aikatsu, anime, SF, fantasy, harem, mecha, baseball
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 13 first episodes
Website category: Anime 2015
Review date: 4 October 2016
I'm watching first episodes again, this time from 2015. I'll be posting these reviews irregularly, as and when I've got through the next batch of episodes.
I've already watched and reviewed a lot of the 2015 shows in their entirety, of course, sometimes quite a long time ago. However I've still banked reviews of those shows' first episodes and I'm posting them as they are. Sometimes these disagree with my final verdict and I'm an idiot. These things happen. I've tried to avoid going back to make myself look less silly in hindsight, although I'll also include a link to my full review where applicable.
Doesn't count because it's a movie: Aikatsu! Music Award: Minna de Shou o Moraima SHOW!
Doesn't count because it's a movie: Ajin: Shoudou
Doesn't count because it's a movie: Anata wo Zutto Aishiteru
Doesn't count because it's a movie: Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio: Ars Nova DC
Doesn't count because it's a movie: Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio: Ars Nova Cadenza
Listed under "C": Anime de Wakaru Shinryounaika (Comical Psychosomatic Medicine)
Listed under "H": Arslan Senki (The Heroic Legend of Arslan)
Listed under "R": Ame-iro Cocoa (Rainy Cocoa)
Listed under "S": Akagami no Shirayuki-hime (Snow White with the Red Hair)
Listed under "S": Atashin'chi (Shin Atashinchi)
Absolute Duo
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching:, okay
One-line summary: magical weapon combat school with stupid set-up
I've since finished it and... I liked it, but the harem stuff breaks the characters, a bit.
There are many reasons to be wary of this episode. I managed to enjoy it anyway, but I was leaning towards "get out of here" until a nice bit after the closing credits.
Dubious things:
1. A school where the entrance exam is "fight the person sitting next to you" and your roommate is randomly chosen on the same principle. Yes, that's "roommate" as in "sharing a bedroom". I can see the boys being more enthusiastic about this than the girls. Someone, please sue this school.
2. All the teachers so far are female and as young as the students. Our hero's homeroom teacher appears to have a mental age of six, is heaving with cleavage and wants to be called Professor Bunny Wabbit.
3. Our hero (Thor) will be sharing a bedroom with a girl! When he enters the room, she's coming out of the shower in a shirt and unconcerned about being half-naked in front of a strange boy. Fortunately Thor is a saint who's more than flustered enough for both of them.
4. Googling suggests that this show is associated with the words "ecchi" and "harem".
Could this perhaps be a light novel adaptation? Also, yes, his name really is Thor.
I still quite liked the episode, though. The school is worrying. Its sole purpose appears to be teaching combat, for a start, and it kicks off with that "show no mercy" entrance exam. "The person beside you is your first enemy." That was nasty, despite the fact that no one got hurt because they're fighting with magical weapons that grow from their souls. Or something. I'm vague on the details. (If a weapon can't hurt anyone, can you actually call it a weapon?) That roommate-choosing technique is aggressively stupid, but by the same token it's suggesting that all those dimwit teachers and cleavage-friendly oufits might merely be camouflage for an extremely bad place. I'm hoping to see later episodes explore the ramifications properly, i.e. the teaching staff get fired for enabling sexual assault.
I also liked the scene after the end credits. Thor and the silver-haired girl (Julie Sigtuna) are talking like normal people and drinking apple tea. After everything we'd seen thus far, that was refreshing. I'll give the show a whirl.
Ace of Diamond: Second Season
Daiya no A Second Season
Season 2
Episodes: 51 x 24 minutes (plus another 75 episodes in Season 1)
Keep watching: it was reasonably entertaining, but no
One-line summary: high school baseball team
It's a laugh. I have no intention of watching 126 episodes of baseball, but this episode amused me.
For starters, it does what it says on the tin. What would you expect from a baseball anime? Answer: baseball. There's a brief framing sequence with two journalists, but otherwise the episode's a super-intense macho battlefield, i.e. a high school baseball game. There are satanic players with glowing red eyes, evil leers and radiating battle auras. They laugh evilly. Sometimes they appear to be playing at midnight under a sinister red or blue spotlight. They're all completely human, by the way. This isn't a supernatural show. They're just high school boys. All those special effects are just the show's way of making baseball look homicidally intense.
Oh, and both teams have lots of players who are secret/ultimate weapons. Well, it is a tournament semi-finals. You'd expect a high standard.
I'm no baseball expert, but I liked the way the show's digging into tactics and psychology. There's a pitcher who goes to pieces just because the batter hit a home run off him (albeit at a crucial time), but at least that's the point of that story beat. It's fun. It's taking itself seriously and then some. The luridly melodramatic style is silly, but also funny.
I'd been assuming that this episode was unrepresentative of the series. You can't do a whole show just like this, surely? I notice that the closing credits have lots of girls who hadn't been in the episode, for instance, doing stuff like training, carrying equipment, etc. However I understand that the anime will regularly make a single game last 4-6 episodes, or even in one case about ten episodes.
The original manga is ridiculously long, by the way, at 47 volumes. Sports anime aren't my thing, but this one looks entertainingly lurid.
Season 4
Episode 1 (of this season) or 153 (of the whole show)
24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: fourteen year-old pop stars from Pop Star Academy
I'm enormously fond of Aikatsu. It's adorable. Watching it gives you happy warm fuzzies. However I've no intention of watching the show regularly, because it's about wannabe idols going to idol school. Singing, dancing and concerts! Auditions and TV appearances! It's relentlessly sugary and portrays an empty, vapid world that revolves entirely around "idols". This show will rot your teeth.
Also it's 178 episodes long, plus movies and a sequel Aikatsu Stars! series that recently started.
Oh, and let's not forget the terrifying, soulless CGI dancing that I assume is the climax of every episode. However the show's still lovely. The characters are all terribly nice and supportive of each other. They try really hard. They're happy. They're always endearingly positive and enthusiastic. This is the kind of vibe that real idols aim to capture (being the manufactured plastic output of a ruthlessly policed image factory). If everyone were like the cast of Aikatsu, the world would be a better place.
Here, the girls are starting a three-month tour. I think they're still connected with school somehow, but they're doing TV specials and public concerts. They're in Hokkaido and about to give their first tour show. The plot, such as it is, involves encouraging two local girls they meet to think of themselves as idols too and raise their ambitions. It's low-key, but sweet.
The visuals are pastel-coloured and pretty. The closing credits are particularly spectacular, like Aikatsu Cartoon Babies in "I'm going to die" colours. The merchandising plug is blatant. ("To idols, cards are life!") The dancing is either:
(a) not animated at all, e.g. their rehearsal. "We danced hard, didn't we?" (No, you didn't dance at all, because that would have been expensive to animate.)
(b) CGI... but the good news is that the CGI's moved on since Season Three. The set-up bit's scary, but the dancing itself isn't bad.
I'd been looking forward to the theme music, obviously. Season Three's "Du-Du-Wa DO IT!!" was mighty. This time it's "START DASH SENSATION", which is fine. I enjoyed it. The weird "everyone shakes hands" scene amuses me. Our heroines are nice. It's uplifting. I still love Aikatsu, but I'm not planning on watching any more until I sample another random episode next year. That'll be from Aikatsu Stars!.
Season 2
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: Earth vs. Mars interplanetary war with mecha
I've since finished it and... it's good, but less impressive than Season 1.
Aldnoah.Zero Season 1 had surprised me by being a good deal better than I'd expected. It had mecha, but despite this was gripping anyway. So far Season 2 looks as if it's keeping up the good work.
It's 19 months later and Mars's subjugation of Earth is going very nicely. Mankind would be in danger of extinction if the Martians weren't just Earth colonists who'd only arrived on Mars a few decades earlier. So it's just everyone on Earth who's due to be exterminated. That's a relief. There's at least one Martian fighting with the Earthlings and an Earthling fighting with the Martians, with some really messed-up psychology and horrendous past mistakes explaining how they got that way.
There's a propaganda battle going on, with the Martians playing dirty. Meanwhile SPOILER has recovered from SPOILER and is even showing modest signs of humanity. That's pretty much the limit of what I can say without SPOILERS, but trust me. It's good.
ani tore ex
Ani Tore! EX
Anime de Training EX
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 4 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: it's an exercise video
I boggled when I heard about this. It's an exercise video. A cute anime girl encourages us to do exercise, for four minutes.
That said, though, it's more entertaining than most exercise videos, because it's not in real time. Usually the audience is expected to be joining in with this kind of thing, making the presenter effectively their personal trainer. This is different. (It's only four minutes long, which wouldn't be much exercise.) Instead it's just a bubbly cute girl talking to you about everything that crosses her mind, some of which involves exercise. (She likes it because it improves her figure. Afterwards she plans to eat ice cream.)
It's been properly animated, which surprised me. I'd been expecting CGI animation, but no. It's all properly hand-drawn, although I see that the voice actors are inexperienced (i.e. cheap). Well, it's hardly a challenging role. You don't need dramatic range. You just need to be charming, which this week's girl manages.
I'm still not watching the other episodes, though.
Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai
Anti-Magic Academy: The 35th Test Platoon
Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: light novel cliches
I don't actually hate it, but there's nothing I love about it either. It's a light novel adaptation set at Anti Magic Academy, full of little warning signs saying "alert, think twice before watching this". My anime-watching colleague actually watched about half a dozen episodes before drifting away. He says it's not that bad and that it quickly gets more serious, but that if you try to take it seriously then there's something wrong with you. The hero will soon gain superpowers, apparently.
We start with the hero (Takeru) being mocked for carrying a samurai sword. (Everyone else has a gun and/or magic.) I presume this is meant to stir up my Japanese pride, but personally I agreed with the jeering. Since Takeru's presumably never going to kill, being the Spotlessly Noble Hero who can't be allowed any negative traits at all, won't that sword of his be worse than useless in actual combat situations?
Anyway, Takeru walks into his platoon squad room and finds a buxom girl sexually harassing another buxom girl for the sake of fanservice. All girls in this show appear to be buxom. What a surprise. When the victim attacks Takeru (eh?), the animators get so excited about boob jiggle that she appears to be vibrating. Later in the episode, Takeru will trip and fall on top of a third buxom girl, thus getting a handful. Takeru of course is so pure of heart that seeing a girl in a bunny suit makes him cry.
There's a fourth girl at the closing credits. I smell a harem.
In fairness, Buxom Girl #3 (the ginger one) actually has some issues. She's a top inquisitor who's been demoted to scum, i.e. 35th Test Platoon, for killing witches. At one point here she's about to kill some criminals that they'd already caught and handcuffed. However Takeru persuades her otherwise! Hurrah for Takeru!
I can mock, but actually it looks sort of okay. Low-end okay, with a high likelihood of being annoying. I'm sure I could plough through it if I really wanted to, but do I need to watch it? No. Apparently it's hated even by fans of the original light novels, who say it discarded backstory and characterisation for the sake of more fanservice. Looks disposable.
Aoharu Kikanjuu
Aoharu x Machinegun
Aoharu x Kikanjuu
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: "survival game" anime, i.e. play gun battles
Bloody hell, it's by Brain's Base! I'm going to have to break my rule, aren't I? Well, I suppose even my favourite studio will eventually make something I refuse to watch.
We meet a high school student with superhuman fighting abilities (Tachibana Hotaru) beating up some bullies. Tachibana looks and sounds like a boy, but she's a girl. She also avoids first-person pronouns and always calls herself "Tachibana", which is another way of being gender-neutral but sounded weird and clumsy to me with that long surname of hers. Anyway, we learn about her gender when a pink-haired girl (Kanae) appears and starts groping Tachibana to see if she's wearing a bra.
Tachibana also has the mindset of an old-fashioned superhero. "I will not condone this evil deed!" "I will never give in to evil."
So far I was still okay. Tachibana has a silly encounter with a smug ladykiller (Masamune Matsuoka) outside her apartment door. He has a gun. What? She then learns that Kanae has been parted from her money and charges off to CONFRONT THE EVILDOERS. (It never occurs to her to ask Kanae whether she'd simply bought something with this money and/or otherwise done something that's her own stupid fault.)
This takes Tachibana to a host club, i.e. a place where women pay to be chatted up by handsome men. In an improbable turn of events, this turns into a gun duel with harmless BB guns. The stakes: "if I win, you belong to me." She accepts this. What?
A mock gun battle. Uh-huh. In other words, an action scene based on the premise that guns aren't boring, that furthermore doesn't even kill off either idiot. The finale then reveals that Tachibana has to join Matsuoka's Survival Game Team and have mock gun battles every sodding week. ("Survival Game" is just the Japanese word for Laserquest, paintball, etc. It's just play survival, not the real thing.) This will help reduce the debt she incurred by trashing the host club in the course of her gun battle. Being, you know, an idiot.
This isn't the first Survival Game anime I've had to avoid. I've just discovered a new least favourite anime genre.
Aquarion Logos
Season 1, but the third Aquarion show
Episodes: 26 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line description: modern equivalent of a 1970s giant robot show
Basically bad and boring, but to my surprise it had some mildly interesting bits towards the end. I'm still not watching it, though.
It's a Super Robot show from the 1970s and 1980s, but updated for modern audiences. We thus have:
(a) giant robots combining into even bigger giant robots, then fighting each other. In fairness this isn't actually bad in itself and there are people who like this sort of thing, but it is pretty boring.
(b) a hot-blooded hero pilot who wants to fight
(c) an opening scene of two boys sneaking into the girls' locker room.
(d) almost no characterisation for the pilots. They have no personality traits at all. They get dialogue and everything, e.g. bickering with each other. However the only one who's distinguishable from the others is Hot Blooded Hero, for being male and annoying. It's the attack of the generic cardboard cut-outs!
There are also two people who don't fly giant robots and instead like books. This is good. I approve. However the boy tries to borrow the girl's ancient rare magical book against her will and they start having a tug-of-war over it, tearing it in half. Oi. Later, the girl falls off a cliff into the water and the boy dives in to save her... while still holding on to his half of the book. He could have put it down. Oi oi oi.
Only a short while later, the girl's saying things like, "When I'm around him, I can't get him out of my mind." They only met five minutes ago. Meanwhile he's swearing lifelong vows of love. This is anti-characterisation. It's the script taking lazy shortcuts to the nearest cliche, without bothering to create these people as people.
There were some things I liked, though. The SF vistas look nifty, there's a frog motif/theme and the show builds a sexual metaphor around robot-combining ("love destiny punch!" "I can't hold back!").
It's the third Aquarion series, but apparently also a standalone and you don't need to have watched the first two. However you don't need to watch this third one either.
Aria no Avvenire
Season 4 of Aria, if you can call three OVAs a season
Episodes: 3 x 20-ish minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: gondolas in an alien Venice, no plot
I've since finished it and... still not much happening, but it's gentle and surprisingly rich thematically.
Nothing happens, but it's beautiful and nice.
It's the city of Neo-Venizia, which looks a lot like the original Venice on Earth. Our heroines are gondoliers. One of them has her faux-birthday, so an old and slightly tsundere friend has come to give her a present. (The "faux-birthday" thing is because this planet has a 24-month year, so people celebrate an additional birthday twelve months after their real one.)
The plot is about giving a friend a birthday present, but this is so slender and understated that calling it a "plot" seems almost misleading. Neo-Venice looks beautiful. The girls are sweet and kind. The episode feels kind of pointless, but that appears to be the kind of show this is and I should definitely watch more of it before rushing to judgement. I'll report back.
hidan no aria
Aria the Scarlet Ammo Double A
Hidan no Aria AA
Season 1, but it's a spin-off of another show
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: girls at gun school and their violent out-of-school activities
I've since finished it and... it's fun and funny, but the action and serious plot don't work.
I liked Aria the Scarlet Ammo a lot. That's a 2011 anime based on a light novel series (started in 2008 and still running). This isn't Season 2 of that show, but instead an adaptation of a spin-off manga with a different protagonist. Aria's still central, but most of the other main characters have been reduced to cameos at most.
I liked it enough to keep going. I didn't adore it.
WHAT'S BETTER: all-female cast, so no Kinji harem.
WHAT'S WORSE: Akari Mamiya's a blander protagonist than Kinji and her relationship with Aria's nothing particularly special. The 2011 series had explosive character dynamics and was batshit mental. This, on the other hand, is bog-standard. Mamiya admires Aria and would like to be her "Amica", which is a sort of mentor-assistant relationship at their school for gun-toting menaces. Mamiya's nice. Aria's nice to her. Everyone's nice... well, perhaps except for Aria's school friends, some of whose comments to her boil down to "know your place" and "you should settle for being a nobody and a failure".
There's lots of action, showing Aria to be almost superhuman. Mamiya made me laugh at one point by saying "ouch", so that's something. The franchise is still determined to avoid panty shots, which is another plus. I have nothing against the episode. I'll keep going.
Ansatu Kyoushitu
Assassination Classroom
Ansatsu Kyoushitsu
Season 1
Episodes: 22 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: YES
One-line summary: Mr Smiley Face teacher has promised to blow up the Earth
I've since finished it and... it's fantastic! Has a good argument for being 2015's most entertaining anime.
Awesome. I love this show already.
3-E is the worst class in Kunugigaoka Middle School, but their teacher believes in them! He doesn't have a name, but they call him Koro-sensei (a pun on "unkillable"). He's the best teacher they've ever had, but he's also a giant yellow octopus-being that can travel at Mach 20, has a head like a smiley face badge and has promised to destroy the Earth in a year's time. As proof of his credentials, he's already blasted the moon. He vapourised 70% of it. Its remains are now, ironically, moon-shaped, i.e. a crescent.
The only way to stop Koro-sensei is to kill him, which is the job of everyone in 3-E. (The government are also trying to do the same on a daily basis, but Koro-sensei is so insanely tough that frankly the children in his class probably have a better chance of success than all the Japanese armed forces en masse.) If they succeed, the government will give them ten billion yen. Koro-sensei himself doesn't have a problem with this and actually encourages them in their assassination attempts, giving them tips and telling them off when they're being sloppy. (While you're trying to kill him, by the way, he'll be combing your hair or polishing your jet fighter's fuselage.)
What's great about this show? Everything. Koro-sensei is a star. The kids are more than a bit broken and he's going to help them, with all these murder attempts apparently being part of their education. He also throws a small tantrum on being accused of being an alien, insisting that he was born and bred on Earth. Gosh. I've heard this show called the best of the year and so far that seems quite plausible. A ton of fun.
"No shooting in the classroom unless you're trying to kill me."
Gakusen Toshi Asterisk
The Asterisk War
The Asterisk War: The Academy City on the Water
Gakusen Toshi Asutarisuku
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: light novel adaptation set at magical duelling school
I've since finished it and... I liked it. Season 2 in 2016 goes downhill a bit, though.
It's one of two anime with the same premise that aired on the same day in nearly the same timeslot in the Autumn 2015 season. The other is Chivalry of a Failed Knight. Obviously I gleefully watched them back-to-back.
The reviews I've seen tend to prefer Chivalry of a Failed Knight, for what it's worth. So far I prefer The Asterisk War, but that's only based on ep.1.
SHARED PREMISE: a boy sees a girl in her underwear. Unfortunately she's a pink-haired sword-wielding tsundere princess with magical fire powers and she's going to kill him, but this then becomes "merely" a duel. It's all resolved without bloodshed thanks to an eccentric female authority figure and we find that both the boy and the princess have their own motivations for being at magical duelling school.
What I liked about this version's ep.1 is that it's being played pretty straight, being realistic and sensible within its SF setting. The fights seem reasonably serious, with the main duel even being a bit cool. There's an assassination attempt. There's some worldbuilding, with the world's governments having fallen in an extinction-level event known as the Ember Tears Meteor Shower that gave the world magic. The scene of our hero (Ayato Amagiri) embarrassing the girl (Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt) is played quite reasonably and everyone's pretty sensible about it. Well, as sensible as you can get in a scene with death threats. The Eccentric Authority Figure (Claudia) is a colourful whack job and I liked her immediately.
The plot has no groan-inducing coincidences, e.g. Julis and Ayato learning that they're roommates. Ayato's actual roommate (Eishirou Yabuki) is friendly and fun. There's also an idiot macho loser who's determined to force Julis to fight a fourth duel with him (having lost the previous three against her) and I hope he meets a humiliating death.
It's good. I enjoyed it. The characters are likeable, the setting has texture and it doesn't stink of light novel adaptations. I'm not being clubbed over the head by protagonist-idolatry, as I was in Chivalry of a Failed Knight. I'll definitely be watching more.
Shingeki! Kyojin Chuugakkou
Attack on Titan: Junior High
Shingeki! Kyojin Chuugakkou
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 17 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: parody of Attack on Titan
I've since finished it and... it's a laugh. I enjoyed it.
I didn't like the manga, but I laughed a lot at this anime episode and I'll be watching the rest of the series.
I'll need some terminology, incidentally. There's the original manga (gory post-apocalyptic horror, a bit one-note but wildly successful) and its anime adaptation. This spawned a manga parody series with everyone at junior high school, which now has its own anime. I'll call these the source-manga, source-anime, parody-manga and parody-anime respectively.
Why's the parody-anime better than the parody-manga?
Firstly, it expands on it. Parody-manga was basically just "replay scenes from the source-manga with equivalent intensity, but bathetic motivations". Here, in comparison, the cast come alive. The anime does better at being a junior high school comedy, e.g. the multiple collision sequence that introduces the main characters. That made me laugh. Eren's late for school, Mikasa is a loony and the show's already setting up love triangles (among idiots).
Secondly, the anime's better at playing with tone. It's an anime. It's got more weapons at its disposal, with my favourite being its knack for looking and sounding identical to the source-anime. It can rip off the music and cinematography. It can evoke its horror and intensity in moments, which of course made me laugh before anything had even happened. (We know we're watching a spoof. It's called Attack on Titan: Junior High.) There's a comedy version of the source-anime's opening credits. I also liked the touch of Eren's class having no generic background characters, but instead all being specific named people with accurately drawn heads on undersized cartoon bodies.
They've changed quite a lot. Some anime adaptations are almost word-for-word identical to the manga, e.g. Kamisama Kiss. Here, not so much.
It just works. It started well and got me on board. I was smiling almost immediately. I bought these people in this comedy world, after which I was happy to enjoy all the silliness thereafter. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.