Assassination ClassroomAo OniAikatsuAggretsuko
Anime 1st episodes 2016: A
Including: Ace Attorney, Ace of Diamond, Active Raid, Active Raid Second, Age 12, Aggretsuko (2016), Aikatsu Stars!, Ajin: Demi-Human: Season 1, Alderamin on the Sky, All Out!!, Amanchu!, And You Thought There Is Never a Girl Online?, Ange Vierge, Ani Tore! XX, Anne Happy, Aokana: Four Rhythm Across the Blue, Ao Oni the Animation (2016 TV series), Assassination Classroom: Second Season, The Asterisk War: The Academy City on the Water (Season 2)
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2016
Series: Anime 1st episodes 2016 >>
Keywords: Assassination Classroom, Aggretsuko, Ao Oni, The Asterisk War, Aikatsu, anime, SF, fantasy, harem, boobs, baseball
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 19 first episodes
Website category: Anime 2016
Review date: 1 May 2017
Listed under "H": Arslan Senki: Fuujin Ranbu, aka. The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Dust Storm Dance
Listed under "R": Ame-iro Cocoa in Hawaii, aka. Rainy Cocoa in Hawaii
Listed under "S": Akagami no Shirayuki-hime, aka. Snow White with the Red Hair
Listed under "S": Atashinchi, aka. Shin Atashinchi
Listed under "S": Amaama to Inazuma, aka. Sweetness and Lightning
Couldn't find: Aira - Pachinko & Slot Island, a "15-second" series
Doesn't count because it's a movie: Accel World: Infinite Burst
Doesn't count because it's a movie: Assassination Classroom 365 Hi no Jikan
I wouldn't be watching any more Ajin even if this weren't a movie: Ajin: Shoutotsu
I wouldn't be watching any more Ajin even if this weren't a movie: Ajin: Shougeki
Ace Attorney
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Gyakuten Saiban
Season 1
Episodes: 24 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: good grief, no
One-line summary: based on attorney video game
It's based on a hugely popular video game, one of very few Japanese visual novels to get broad international distribution. It has lots of fans. This anime, though, is painful. Run away.
The good news is that as a little detective story, this episode is well constructed. The clues are logical and the explanations are satisfying.
The bad news is that it's absurd and annoying. A man is on trial for murder, which in Japan still carries the death penalty. The prosecution's main witness claims to have seen the defendant outside the victim's apartment at 2pm. The autopsy report says the victim died at 4pm. Everyone in court is astonished when Phoenix Wright points this out. Eh? What kind of system is this? Are the police morons? What about the prosecutor? How can it be possible to put so little effort into putting someone on trial? (Okay, yes, the world is full of countries that are this bad and worse, but what's on screen here looks like a functioning modern democracy, not a totalitarian dictatorship.)
This show is clearly Phoenix Wright vs. Halfwits. As far as I'm concerned, it can die burning in a ditch.
What's more, the defendant is a loudmouth who overreacts cartoonishly to everything he hears and sees. Every time he opens his mouth, he tightens the noose around his own neck. I hated him for being too stupid to live, but his defence council also deserves some blame for doing nothing about it. Phoenix never orders his client to shut up. He just stands there and cringes, like the deadpan straight man in a comedy act.
In fairness, this franchise is based on Japan's inquisitorial legal system, not the English-speaking world's adversarial one. Juries are rare, judges are more pro-active and there's a thing called a "public procurator", who's both the investigator and prosecutor. Furthermore, I believe that in Phoenix Wright's world, all court cases must be settled inside three days and defendants are presumed guilty until proven innocent.
That I can accept. What I don't like is its stupidity. That 2pm/4pm thing is basically a big flag being waved under your nose, saying "we're taking the piss". When Phoenix Wright points his finger dramatically, the man on the witness stand is blasted by wind and his wig flies off. (They're inside a courtroom, obviously, which has no open doors or windows.) The prosecution's chief witness is also the murderer, which we know because he's so evil that he leers evilly in the courtroom. In the presence of everyone. (In fact we'd known he was the killer since scene one, but apparently we also needed an evil leer.)
I should admit that even before I started watching this, I was pretty sure from its title that I wouldn't be continuing. "Ace Attorney" suggested nothing good. (Since I started sampling every new anime series, I've found courtroom drama to be the most reliably bad genre that's not aimed at small children or perverts.) Over and above my personal prejudices, though, this show plays like a childish pisstake of courtroom drama. I couldn't stomach it. I don't normally hate things, but this is appalling. I can imagine the original game being good, but this anime is foetid.
Ace of Diamond
Season 2
Episode 39
24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: baseball
It's a high school baseball show. I quite enjoyed this episode, although it helped a lot that I didn't actually have to watch any baseball. The nationals are on the line tomorrow! I can't remember if these are qualifiers or quarter-finals or what, but everyone's really intense about them. The episode's all build-up and no baseball. It's the day before, so there's lots of preparation and fervour. We meet all the players and see how each one is managing to be hot-blooded and a bit silly. This is fun. They're a lively bunch. A couple of them are carrying injuries and one of those is the team's star pitcher, which provides the episode's drama. (He wants to play and sod the medical consequences, obviously.)
I quite like the art, which isn't afraid to be a bit ugly occasionally. There's a tendency to draw wide, slightly toad-like mouths. (That's even true of one of the girls on the support staff.) It's quite a nice episode, really, if that's not a misleading word to use for what's basically 24 minutes of macho testosterone poisoning. They're all supportive. They're really, really enthusiastic about their baseball. I'm not a sports fan, but I'd have no problems recommending this to someone who was.
Kidou Kyoushuushitsu Dai-Hakkei
Active Raid
Active Raid: Public Mobile Assault Unit Eight
Active Raid: Kidou Kyoushuushitsu Daihachigakari
Seasons 1-2
24 episodes
Keep watching: yes, I did
One-line summary: light-hearted armoured cops in the year 2035
I've since finished it and... it's okay and I had fun, but there's nothing remotely essential about it.
It looks quite fun. Nothing about it says "this is essential viewing", but I could imagine continuing with it. I probably will.
It's the future and Public Mobile Assault Unit Eight are a bunch of violent incompetents who don't know how to obey orders and stay out of trouble. That's the opinion of Assistant Inspector Asami Kazari, anyway, despite not having met them yet. She's their new boss. She's going to whip these misfits into shape! Ahahahahaha, no. (She also has an annoying habit of occasionally saying little bits of English to other Japanese people. Her name's Japanese and she's clearly not bilingual, at least judging by her voice actress's accent.)
On actually meeting Unit Eight, though, they're a pretty relaxed bunch. They lounge around while we hear jazzy music. They have some RoboCop suits called Will Wears and a cheerfully pragmatic attitude towards the regulations about using them. (The only team member apart from Assistant Inspector Kazari who's not relaxed is Souichirou Sena, who disapproves of things and describes himself as the kind of person who likes sorting garbage. He doesn't fit into the team and gets on particularly badly with Takeru Kuroki, who's the other boy and this episode's other Will Wear user.)
Some baddies show up, of course, but they're a bit pathetic. They're two sixteen-year-olds who haven't realised that it's not very clever to give a running internet commentary on your crimes while you commit them. Admittedly they're wearing armoured suits that are like bipedal tanks, but even so they're not scary people. Unit Eight gives them exactly as much respect as they deserve. "Maybe they think we'll hold back because they're minors?"
The episode's moderately amusing. It's mildly parodic about the restrictions on law enforcement, so for instance Unit Eight are banned from doing anything that might damage, say, a building being used by an anime production company that happens to be politically connected. "That's a building of significance to the former Prime Minister, so you're not allowed to fire!" The music's unobtrusive but fun. There's light-hearted dialogue. When Souichirou Sena grumbles about the low-grade mission he's being sent on today, he gets asked if he'd like medical attention for his wounded heart. There's a significant amount of fanservice during the "RoboCop Suiting Up Sequence"... but it's all from Souichirou and Takeru, i.e. the boys. (Admittedly Unit Eight's personnel is mostly young, female and pretty, so it would be silly to claim that the show's all fangirl bait. However it's still nice to see the slightly less travelled anime route when it comes to shirtless eye candy.)
Besides, all that stuff about "ignoring the rules" is exaggerated. Combat procedure is detailed and Unit Eight mostly adheres to it. Stage 1 is a warning, after which you have to wait a predetermined amount of time before proceeding to Stage 2, etc.
Oh, what the hell. I've talked myself into it. I'll continue.
Season 1 was fine. I quite enjoyed it. This looks fine too, so I'll be continuing.
We begin with an "as you know" status update as a cop gets interviewed on TV. There's now a Unit 9 in the West of Japan, while the tight-arsed cop has quit to join a garbage-disposal company in Nagoya. (His new boss has big boobs, is foreign and swears a lot.) However he's about to get dragged back when Unit 8 take advantage of regulations that let them rehire him as a private contractor. He's worried about whether he's still fit for use after so long away, but he's spurred into action (i.e. irritated) by that carefree colleague of his. They've always disliked each other. That hasn't changed, but they also know that they're good at backing each other up.
Unit 8 has also recruited a couple of new girls. I can't remember anything about the first of them, but the second one has a phobia concerning other people's eyes. She's fine if she wears some special glasses, though.
It's a perfectly competent episode. This week's criminal is an unpleasant teenager who's been talked into wearing a Will Wear suit and giving the police a chase. She thinks she's going to get ten million yen. What she doesn't know is that her suit's wired to explode. This makes for a reasonably entertaining runaround with a bit of character business for Tightarse. (Sorry, Souichirou.) I'll keep going.
Age 12
12-sai - Chiccha na Mune no Tokimeki
Seasons 1+2
Episodes: 24 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: girls' manga about young romance
I've since finished Season 1 and... I admire the show, but these characters have no clue
I liked it, but the main character (Hanabi Ayase) looks exactly like Sana-chan from Kodocha no Omocha. I'm sure I'll get used to it, though. It just distracted me for a bit.
As the title suggests, the characters are all twelve years old. They're in the last year of elementary school and on the boundary between childhood and starting to become adults. One of them here is having her first period. (Even going to a shop and buying pads for the first time is nerve-wracking for these girls, although also funny.) The episode begins with them talking about first kisses, which of course they haven't had.
Unfortunately there's one problem with that, which is that almost all of the available boys are loathsome. I was swearing at the screen. You'll want to push them into traffic. They flip skirts, hold girls' popularity polls and will bully someone for having their period. Mind you, they do apologise when Ayase goes ballistic at them for the latter and then the class's one tolerable boy (Yuuto Takao) has a go at them too.
Then we discover that girls can be worse. School is scary.
This episode has two potential couples, though. One is Ayase-Takao, which appears to be the main couple and is being written a bit clumsily, to be honest. However there's a reason for that. I couldn't believe how much ground had been covered by the end of the episode. They go from nowhere to having kissed, confessed to each other and announced it to the rest of the class! Admittedly the order in which it happens is a bit unconventional, but still. Wow. It takes most shows their entire run to get that far. I'm looking forward to seeing where that's going next.
The other couple gets less screen time and makes less progress, but you can see the groundwork being laid. The boy's one of the jerks, but he's struggling with that in his own sullen way.
The Kodocha thing really was distracting, though. I got used to it since Ayase's personality is nothing like Sana-chan's, but it would clobber me in eyecatch images or the title sequence. They have the same face, although that's unsurprising in shoujo manga. They have the same hair colour and hairstyle, with their pigtails and ribbons tied in the same way. They're roughly the same age. (Sana's 11 at the start of Kodocha.) This show even has a romantic foil/antagonist bad boy called Hiyama, which is almost the same as Kodocha's Hayama. Now in fairness I shouldn't think anyone else cares about this, since Kodocha was twenty years ago, but it also happens to be my all-time favourite TV show in any language or genre.
That's not a problem, though. I liked the show. I want to watch more. The boys are already showing signs of improvement, which is fortunate for my blood pressure. I'm quite keen to see this one.
Aggressive Retsuko
Aggressive Retsuko
Season 1
Episodes: 100 x 1 minute
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: animal office life
I've since finished it and... it's clever and funny.
I'd heard interesting things about Aggretsuko and I was looking forward to it, but then I realised that I'd been hearing about Season 2. That's a Netflix show, but the first season had been a hundred tiny episodes on TBS Television in 2016, so I started by looking for that.
It's set in a world of talking animals, but with the twist that it's not a kiddie show. Our heroine, Retsuko, is 25 years old and works in an office where her bosses either: (a) shove their work on to her, forcing her to work late, or (b) sneer at her for working late. She releases her stress by singing death metal.
It's only a one-minute Flash-animated episode, but it seems quite promising and they should be able to do something interesting with a hundred of them.
Aikatsu Stars!
Season 1 of this spin-off series
76 episodes and a movie
24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: schoolgirls at idol school
It's the first Aikatsu series I haven't liked, although in fairness it's not original Aikatsu. It's a spin-off from Aikatsu. We have schoolgirls at idol school, as always. Our main characters this time are the eye-rollingly named Nijino Yume ("Rainbow's Dream"), her best friend Nanakura Koharu (no personality yet) and a unlikable rival, Sakuraba Laura, who shows up late to class with an attitude. I'm not sure whether I'm meant to find Sakuraba this obnoxious. The girls also have an annoying homeroom teacher, who poses in black leather and keeps saying gratuitous English.
The CGI dancing has improved out of sight, though. It looks pretty good now. Many people probably won't have realised it's not hand-drawn, whereas two years earlier it had been the dawn of the living dead. The episode also has a genuinely interesting punchline.
I'm hardly an Aikatsu expert, but until now what I've seen of this franchise had always had lovable characters. Here, though, all I can see is two characters I don't like and Yume just wanting to be a member of an idol group called S4. She also climbs a tree in a short dress and then is surprised when a boy walks underneath. Even if I felt the urge one day to binge on Aikatsu (which I don't), I'd watch one of the earlier shows I found charming rather than this. Avoid it.
Ajin: Demi-Human
Ajin: Demi-Human: Season 1
Seasons 1-2
26 episodes
24 minutes
Keep watching: undecided
One-line summary: dark take on X-Men with no sense of humour
I've since finished Season 1 and... I want all these humourless, one-note characters to go away and die.
Hmmm. It looks very well done, but a bit on the dreary brutal grimdark side. Lots of action, guns, violence, etc. Can't complain about punches being pulled, but it's not very likeable.
Ajin are superhumans who can't be killed. We first meet one in a warzone in Africa. A town's been reduced to rubble and the fighters are shooting their way from house to demolished house, every so often losing comrades to headshots. They meet someone known as "God's Soldier". They shoot him and exclaim that they've "killed God!"
Technically, I think they did actually kill him. It's just that Ajin don't stay dead.
17 years later, we're at school in Japan. That was the world's first encounter with an Ajin. Now there are 46 known worldwide, with two in Japan. Apparently they're seen as inhuman, fit only to be captured and experimented upon. This seems stupid to me. If you're a bigot who really must try to bully another species, why pick on immortal superhumans?
"Ajin aren't human, are they?"
"Of course not. Now, about the utility value of Ajin..."
Oh, and Ajin look completely human. The only way of recognising one is to kill it and see if it stays dead. We have a protagonist (Kei Nagai) who's trying to be a "fine human", which flags up which way the story's going. His mother censors his friends, while his sister in hospital is obnoxious too. You can see where all this is going. The plot beats are predictable, as is the show's brutal cynicism about friendship and human nature in general. This is not a feelgood show.
Like I said, hmmm. It's also the next Polygon Pictures show after Knights of Sidonia, so it's 100% CGI-generated animation. Not a hand-drawn frame to be seen. I enjoyed Knights of Sidonia, though, so that doesn't have to be a deal-breaker. (Netflix picked up both series, incidentally, so it would seem that there are freaks out there who actually prefer this style. Maybe they're just looking for anime that doesn't look too much like anime?) Oh, and I believe it's a sequel, interquel or something to three anime movies from the same studio in 2015-2016, but I haven't seen any of those and I was fine watching this episode on its own.
Anyway, so far the show seems pretty good, in a cold way. It's all realistic and efficient. The tone's consistent and you can take everything seriously. The violence and cynicism are all done about as well as you could want. I could imagine continuing with this, but then again I wouldn't really care if I dropped it. I'll consider.
Nejimaki Seirei Senki Tenkyou no Aruderamin
Alderamin on the Sky
Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou no Aruderamin
Season 1
Episodes: 13 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: obviously, yes
One-line summary: lazy but clever hero in a fantasy world at war
I've since finished it and... it's superb.
It looks great. Not only do I want to watch it all, but I already want Madhouse to make another season.
It's set in a fantasy world, but quite a detailed, realistic one. The tech level seems roughly late 19th century, so they have rifles but hot air balloons can be a new military weapon. However trainees have magical partners, e.g. a wind sprite or a water sprite. (Hmmm. I might be wrong about the tech level. Maybe Torway's gun is sprite-powered? Mind you, does it matter whether or not these people use gunpowder?)
Similarly the show's avoiding anime-isms. The art's realistic, as are the girls' body types. The society portrayed here has quite an elaborate social structure, which is important in a military world and is used to reveal some rather nice subtleties about the characters. Matthew's aggressive about being from a low-ranked noble family with no name recognition... but the princess recognises him. No one else had. Similarly it's interesting to see the difference between Ikta's straight-talking to the princess and everyone else's super-polite language as if they're at the imperial court. That's going to get Ikta's face shoved into the ground.
The show also deftly tells us that there won't be any worrying relationships. (That princess is twelve.)
The plot's good. Ikta's a lazy womaniser who has no interest in using his military talents and just wants to be a librarian. His best friend and chain is Yatorishino, a childhood friend who yanks him back when he oversteps his bounds. She's serious-minded, perhaps a bit too much so. Anyway, they're two of a group of military trainees who get on a ship and... okay, that'll do. Spoilers. Suffice to say that I'd already recommend this show to anyone. I've only seen ep.1, but it's doing everything a first episode should.
all out
All Out!!
Season 1
Episodes: 25 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: it's great, but no
One-line summary: rugby
I really enjoyed this episode, but I'm not planning to continue. This looks contradictory, but it's quite simple, really. I liked the characters. Iwashimizu in particular is charming and funny. However it's a rugby anime, so I'm happy to enjoy these 24 minutes I saw and then go away with happy memories.
The title sequence begins with an appeal to the target audience. Muscled men in tight shorts walk away from the camera, with the camera ignoring anything from the neck up. Hello, fangirls! That said, though, the range of beefcake available is a bit broader than usual in this kind of thing. They're rugby players. They're not just pretty boys. Some look like thugs and others have recent facial injuries.
I enjoyed this episode because it's not primarily about rugby. It's about its characters. It's the start of a new school year and we meet two newbies: Sumiaki Iwashimizu and Kenji Gion. Iwashimizu is monstrously huge and could probably flatten a small army, but he's a girl. He talks like a girl, has girlish body language and reacts to everything like a delicate maiden. He likes romance novels and plans to join the school's literature club. He has absolutely no intention whatsoever of joining the rugby club.
Iwashimizu is fantastic. The show's title should have been Iwashimizu: The Anime.
Gion, on the other hand, is a shrimp with a hair-trigger temper. Don't call him short. Don't try to bully him. Don't try to bully Iwashimizu while he's around, either. Gion's never even heard of rugby, although as it happens the sport's not unpopular in Japan and the Japanese rugby union team is the strongest in Asia and ranked 10th in the world. However once Gion's been introduced to the sport, he thinks it's awesome and runs straight off to join the club and try to get violent with the club's strongest player. (After that, he has to peel himself off the wall.)
"Ouch... that was fun!"
Personally, I'm not interested in rugby. I played it at school and wasn't a fan. However I'm definitely a fan of Iwashimizu, plus to a lesser extent Gion and the show's other rugby-heads. I'd recommend this show in a heartbeat for anyone who likes the sport.
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes plus a 13th OVA
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: scuba diving club
It looks thoroughly nice. It's set in a charming small-town world with a charming cast. I'm sure it's a lovable show, but it's about scuba diving and I'm just not that interested in a show based on that. However I still enjoyed this episode and I'd recommend it to anyone who thinks they might enjoy twelve episodes about scuba-diving schoogirls.
The main character is Hikari Kohinata, who's super-cheerful and slightly manic. She's often drawn with a huge brainless grin and cartoonishly blank eyes that make her look like Luffy from One Piece. She made me laugh. She's the kind of girl who'd still be making silly comments and cracking jokes if she'd just walked off a cliff.
The other main character is Futaba Ooki, a quieter girl who's just moved here from the city and is missing her friends. She has a Cartoon Face Mode too, with spiralling squiggles for eyes and a little triangle for her mouth.
It's obviously going to be plot-light and terribly happy. It's also such a quiet coastal area that there's only one high school, which has an unbelievable uniform. It's an ankle-length one-piece dress that bells out at the bottom like a jellyfish and does unflattering things to your hips. It's like a pink flamenco dress, but slightly toned down. (The boys are dressed normally.)
In short, this looks like being an easy, pleasant show to watch. It's pretty. It's based on a manga by Kozue Amano, who created the similarly stress-free Aria... which had another water-based setting, now I come to think of it. This episode also looks as if it's setting up romance between Hikari and Futaba, although this may or may not stay as subtext. I have no negative comments about it at all. However I'd bet money that nothing much will happen beyond some emotional growth for the characters and I'm not expecting the experience of watching Episode A to be significantly different from that of Episode B. Besides, it's about scuba diving. I enjoyed ep.1 and I'm happy to leave it at that.
Netoge no Yome wa Onna no Ko Janai to Omotta
And You Thought There Is Never a Girl Online?
Netoge no Yome wa Onna no Ko Janai to Omotta?
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes, but ideally in raw Japanese without these subtitles
One-line summary: light novel adaptation about online role-players in real life
I've since finished it and... I liked it a lot.
I quite liked it. I was slightly disappointed that it became light-novellish towards the end (mostly in its cast), but it's still an amusing idea that I'm happy to stick with.
Hideki Nishimura is a hardcore nerd who plays an online fantasy role-playing game. If you kill an orc in the game, for instance, it doesn't fall down and bleed as you'd expect, but instead explodes into glowing light. Similarly, getting killed is just a temporary hiccup until the party's cleric resurrects you. Anyway, the episode starts with a buxom girl asking to marry him. Hideki refuses, because he's sworn never to fall in love again. (Yes, he does strike a bit of a pose while he says that.) "OK," she replies, "then marry me!"
Presumably his fellow players are either: (a) trolls, or (b) not confined by our ordinary Earth logic.
There's a fair bit about relationships. People discuss it both online and in real life, at school. Hideki has an online wife (having eventually said "yes" to that teammate after she'd asked him ten times), but in reality he's a nerd with no chances whatsoever. Asking out a girl in real life looks like a fast track to rejection. Furthermore Hideki carries the scars of having once made an embarrassing mistake, having forgotten that someone's online identity needn't have any connection whatsoever to their real one. A hot babe is quite likely to be a middle-aged bloke, your grandmother or perhaps a little gang of six-year-olds.
Amazingly, Hideki even isn't the most dysfunctional party member. His "wife", Ako, will go into a psychotic muttering trance if people start talking about real-life romance. "Ah, I wish those people would die out. They're a plague on the world."
Anyway, it's fun. It's got some nice touches, e.g. pointing out that "real girls don't say meow" and identifying different breeds of gamer. Another team member, Apricot, is the kind of player who keeps buying all those game add-ons that cost real money and are how lots of game companies these days make money with free online games. The only thing I didn't like was the subtitles on my copy of the episode. They make a few distracting choices and I think I'd enjoy the show more without them.
1. "Ore-sama" --> "my bad self". Admittedly it's probably no worse a translation than any other, since trying to translate the nuances of Japanese pronouns is inherently unnatural in English. However it's still jarring, in that it's attention-grabbing and makes you wonder what on Earth the character's saying in Japanese. You stop and double-check. "Ore-sama". Um. Oh, right.
2. "Ore no yome" --> "mai waifu". FUCK RIGHT OFF. I loathe that bit of fanspeak.
If I hadn't been able to turn off the subtitles... oh, bloody hell. I can't. Hmmm. Well, I'll steel myself and keep going. This is clearly a light novel adaptation and I'm vaguely expecting it to adhere to genre formula, which may or may not end up being eye-rolling, but I like the idea of the show. Let's give it a chance to surprise me!
Ange Vierge
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: flying battle scenes and girls in the bath
It's a trading card game! No, it's an anime. The plot involves... um, a thin excuse for lots of girls to fight something. I think there was quite a complicated technobabble explanation involving multiple Earths, each of a different colour. Imminent apocalypse! Girls have to save the Earths! In practice, though, this episode has:
1. a big fight
2. info-dump
3. title sequence
4. girls in the bath for half the episode
5. another fight
...the end. The fights are clearly important-ish, or at least prominent. So far, though, my main impression is of a show that wants to animate fight scenes and isn't too bothered about having them mean anything emotionally. They're just fight scenes. I think the second one's just the girls going out and sparring with each other for training purposes.
What's more important than anything else in the universe, though, is naked girls. Or, to be more precise, fog and light beams. I watched the censored TV version. You can't see anything. It's sleaze-free sleaze. This starts at the 7-minute mark and no one gets dressed until 18:30. If you don't include the opening and closing credits, over half of this show's running time is clothes-free. (That's still true even if you include a minute-long non-nude flashback.)
That aside, though, is there anything here? I don't object to exploitation, but when the girls are in the bath, does anything happen? Well... they talk. There are lots of conversations. They're hardly world-shaking, but I was mildly interested in the girl with one eye and one wing, for instance. She's like half an angel. Her left eye is just a ball with a cross in it. There are also two emotionless girls who might be either computers or robots. There are two girls who will almost certainly prove to be scary and say things like "are you going to fight me?" while summoning magical knives.
If you're a fan of aerial battle scenes, maybe you'll enjoy this show. If you like sleaze, you'll probably investigate the uncensored Blu-rays and then quit in disgust on learning that they're unchanged from the TV version. No nipples? What's the point of it all, then? If you like good anime... well, the jury's out. So far, there's not enough to judge. The plot hasn't begun yet, assuming that there is one. Some of the character outlines have potential. (I wouldn't yet go so far as to say that this show has characters, since no one's yet been developed beyond the level of "can hold conversations".)
The show seems harmless, if generic and underwritten, once you've got past the non-nudity. (Fog and light beams!) There's nothing else offensive about it, but that in itself is hardly a reason to watch this show.
ani tore ex
Ani Tore! XX
Anime de Training XX
Season 2
Episodes: 12 x 4 minutes
Keep watching: NO!!!
One-line summary: zero-dimensional girls and an exercise video
This show's got a lot harder to stomach since I last sampled it. Now there are six girls. You are with them... and when I say "you", that's because the girls are talking to the camera. You're moving in together! The girls talk intimately to you and only give a token feeble protest when the camera stares at their arses.
There's a clumsy girl, a buxom girl and a chuunibyou girl who made me want to break things. She dresses in black and says melodramatically that she's the "Princess of Denebrae" who'll "bring doom to the world". In a full-length anime with room to explore such characters properly, I think worthwhile use can be made of them. However this isn't such a show. It's a four-minute episode where the second half is an exercise video. Its characters aren't characters. They're mechanically chosen stereotypes. I'm watching a parade of otaku bait, with Chuunibyou Girl box-ticking the demographic of "male viewers who think mental illness is sexy". Piss right off. That's what I said whenever she spoke.
I wasn't kidding about the "exercise video" bit, by the way. "Ani Tore" is short for "anime (physical) training". This week one of the girls shows us how to do lateral bends.
Anne Happy
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: slice-of-life comedy about unlucky girls
I've since finished it and... it's a bit throwaway, but charming and amusing
Well, that was different.
We begin with a blonde girl hanging off a bridge with a dog biting her. The girl's name is Anne and she's super-cheerful and optimistic. Given her circumstances, this is impressive. She falls in the water.
Other girls in the show include:
(a) Ruri (blue hair), who thinks she's normal and that it's wrong to include her in a class of unlucky people. (Her new high school has some strange educational policies. The class's schoolwork for the day is to listen to the teacher's introduction for five minutes and their homework is to take home a raw egg and not break it. That's nothing more than an example of a simple task that a halfway competent human being could do on auto-pilot. Everyone in the class fails. That's the kind of bad luck we're talking about. Anne appears to succeed at first, but that's just because such a trivial failure would be too easy for her unearned evil karma.) Ruri's definition of "normal" has a hole in it. I suspect that she also feels attraction for her new classmates, although here they've only just met and it's very understated.
(b) Botan (pale pink hair), a weird self-abuse girl whose bones break if you so much as glance at them. She says disturbing things. If this were real life rather than a light-hearted anime, she'd be a suicide risk.
They also have a teacher who's almost always kind and friendly. During the other two seconds, she's deeply scary.
I really enjoyed this. I like schoolgirl shows anyway, but I don't remember ever seeing another like this. It's an unusual combination. Theoretically it's dark, with a fair amount of borderline black humour, but it's also light and charming. Anne's lovely. She thinks she's lucky (SO WRONG) and she's always seeing the upside in every situation. Our heroines' lives are pretty bad, in various ways, but they're coming together as non-judgemental friends. I'm looking forward to this.
Aokana: Four Rhythm Across the Blue
Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: a fairly gentle-looking school anime, but with grav-shoes
I've since finished it and... it's fine. Quite nice.
It seems pleasant. Lots of girls and one boy, but so far it doesn't smell like a harem show. My only problem is a few plausibility glitches.
All the characters are high school students on an archipelago of four islands. I think everyone calls them the Four Islands. Well, it's a name. It looks pretty idyllic there, probably nearer the equator than Japan's main island group.
The main character is Asuka, a cheerful airhead who moved to the Four Islands yesterday. She's the kind of girl who'll challenge a top sports player to a duel in their specialist sport without even knowing what it is or what its rules are. We first meet her as she looks for her keys. She's dropped them. Other characters appear and will get stuck looking after this hopeless case, including:
Masaya (token male) - possibly meant to be the protagonist, but he's not that important in this episode.
Misaki, Mashiro, Rika - schoolgirls. Mashiro is very, very fond of Misaki, to the point of possible danger.
Everything seems normal until Misaki flies down from the sky in grav-shoes. Asuka needs these explained to her, even though they've been around for years and you'd think it would be hard not to be aware of something like that. (Maybe what she's never seen before is the technology in this particular form?) Even schoolchildren can use grav-shoes, but you can only take off from a "terminal". Someone's painted a patch of tarmac and called it a terminal. They're like tiny car parks. What's the point? I don't see what it gains. Presumably it's some kind of heavy-handed safety measure, but I see no evidence to suggest that it would ever be necessary and I can't imagine real people bothering with it. There's no air traffic control, visibility isn't a problem and you could take off from a postage stamp. You just turn on your grav-shoes and start levitating.
Other implausibilities involve female modesty. All the girls wear short skirts, even though they fly everywhere. Um. (At one point Asuka gives Masaya an eyeful, but it's not to camera. The show isn't doing panty shots.) Another girl who might be Asuka (not sure) is also dozy enough to undress in front of her bedroom window with the light on at night without drawing the curtains. She's then shocked when someone sees her.
I'm not expecting these logic flaws to bother me too much, though. The storyline will get going and these initial problems will fade into the background. Hopefully. The characters are fun, their world seems pleasant and I imagine I'll enjoy this show.
Ao Oni the Animation (2016 TV series)
Ao Oni the Animation
Aooni The Blue Monster
Season 1
Episodes: 13 x 3 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: Flash-animated teenagers go into haunted house and die
I've since finished it and... I rather liked it, although it is just a silly short-form black comedy.
It's based on a horror game, apparently. It also has cheap Flash-style animation, so I'd guess it's a web animation. Let me check... no, I'm wrong. It got broadcast on TV. Well, you live and learn.
Ao Oni means "blue demon". Ao Oni is twice as tall as a human and will:
(a) hang you by the neck until you're dead
(b) bite your head off
(c) stomp you into a bloody pulp
On the evidence of this episode, though, Ao Oni lives in a haunted house and will only attack people who go in there. Enter our heroes. We have four teenagers! (No, make that three. No, two. Oh, you get the picture.) This would be a screaming cliche if it weren't a comedy, so the teens will be intently discussing what might be happen and what's wrong with the headcount even as they're being eaten.
The animation starts out as Cheap Short-Form Horror Animation (like Yamishibai) to fool you, then switches to Kiddie Cartoon But Way Cheaper. I'm not a great fan of anime in that style, but this particular show seems like a laugh. (Apparently the computer game is straight horror, though.) The franchise also has movies, both live-action and anime. Wow. Weird. Anyway, I'll give it a go.
Ansatu Kyoushitu
Assassination Classroom: Second Season
Ansatsu Kyoushitsu Season 2
Season 2
Episodes: 25 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: not the show's best episode, but yes
One-line summary: comedy alien teacher and his class who've been ordered to kill him
I've since finished it and... they're making less use of Koro-sensei this season, but it's still a great show.
This show is brilliant. Admittedly this particular episode is less brilliant, but that's partly because no one tried to kill Koro-sensei this week. Very little in this world is funnier than that.
Koro-sensei is a big yellow octopus that can move at Mach 20, with a highly dubious personality. He also has an awesome laugh that would be really annoying if he was your teacher. He says he's going to destroy the world in March, which he probably could achieve without too much effort. However mankind has a chance! His junior high students have to kill him first!
That's the general background. In this episode, though, Koro-sensei tries to pair up his students romantically because he's a busybody who likes sleaze. It doesn't work, but then the entire class joins forces in trying to pair up Bitch-sensei and Karasuma.
We briefly meet Nagisa's divorced dad. Bitch-sensei gets some character work. It's okay, but below the level of Season 1. I'll still be watching all the rest of the show, though, plus the second live-action movie and the alt-universe 'Koro-sensei Quest!' spin-off...
Gakusen Toshi Asterisk
The Asterisk War: The Academy City on the Water (Season 2)
Gakusen Toshi Asterisk
Season 2
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... the show's getting less interesting.
I liked Season 1. It's a mildly harem-ish light novel adaptation with a superpowered perfect protagonist fighting magical duels, but I enjoyed it. I'll be watching Season 2.
It's lighter than the Season 1 finale, obviously, but still entertaining and built around a set-piece battle. Ayato and Julis fight two Chinese martial artists who are respectful and honourable. Our heroes win, of course. Afterwards, the losers offer their congratulations and warn them that their next opponents will be two sadistic, condescending, bullying Chinese martial artists who fight dirty. Ayato and Julis are surprised to receive this warning, but are told that just being of the same nationality as someone and going to the same school doesn't mean you don't hate their guts.
I don't have much to say, really. I'm not sure Julis should be fighting in a mini-skirt, but it's her choice. I'll be continuing, obviously.