Arslan SenkiHaruchikamechaJapanese
Anime 1st episodes 2016: H
Including: Hagane Orchestra, Haikyuu, Hakuouki Otogisoushi, Handa-kun, Haruchika (2016 anime), Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto, Heavy Object, Heybot, High School Fleet, The High School Life of a Fudanshi, Hitori no Shita: the Outcast, Hundred, The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Dust Storm Dance, Hybrid x Heart Magias Academy Ataraxia
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2016
Series: << Anime 1st episodes 2016 >>
Keywords: Arslan Senki, Haruchika, anime, SF, fantasy, historical, mecha
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 14 first episodes
Website category: Anime 2016
Review date: 16 September 2017
Listed under "F": Hatsukoi Monster, aka. First Love Monster
Listed under "G": Hai to Gensou no Grimgar, aka. Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
Listed under "S": Hibike! Euphonium S2, aka. Sound! Euphonium
Hagane Orchestra
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 4 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: short-form comedy about advertising a smartphone game
Not many anime are this honest. It starts by showing us tanks in deserts, frozen wastes, jungles, etc. After that, the narrator comes out and says what half the industry seems to be up to. "This anime is nothing but an advertisement for a smartphone game set in this world."
There are some girls around a table. They want to publicise the smartphone game. What should they do?
Answer: sell tissues in Akihabara! This is hard in a fantasy setting with no tissue-making industry, but they do it. Unfortunately they send out their team's token male member, so they end up with a mountain of unwanted tissues. "What did we do wrong?" Assorted ideas are trotted out. All fail in a manner that's modestly amusing. An overenergetic girl strips naked, out of sheer dedication to the cause, but this too is for comedy and the anime censors her nudity with stickers.
The show doesn't look bad, actually. I'm sure it's a laugh. I had a quick glance at future episodes and it looked as if they're keeping up the silly work. Plenty of comedy ideas. However it looks fairly disposable and I think it's driven by gags rather than, say, being able to tell any difference between the girls. (Apart from the stripper, obviously.) I'd probably enjoy this show if I watched it, but I'll be fine without it too.
Season 3
Episodes: 10 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: volleyball
I've been watching Haikyuu since it started in 2014. Well, sort of. I've been watching every season's first episode. Every year it's been good and every year I've been saying that I'd happily recommend it and that the only reason I'm not continuing is my lack of interest in volleyball. Of all the sports anime I don't watch, Haikyuu might possibly be my favourite.
This year's the same. It's funny. The characters are entertaining and the show can make me laugh even with something as simple as the hand-slapping as everyone heads for the volleyball court. I like the contrasting characters, who aren't the single-minded testosterone monsters you might expect. The core cast are male, this being a boys' volleyball club, but there are also female characters (supporters, managerial staff) and we start with one of them having a brain overload as she gives a good luck charm to a boy she likes.
Our heroes (Karasuno High School) are in the finals against the champions, Shiratorizawa. It's a big match in every sense. It'll be their first five-set game, for a start, rather than the three-set games that are normal in high school volleyball. Furthermore this entire ten-episode season will apparently go entirely on that one match, which in the original manga lasted over 35 chapters (as opposed to the usual ten or so). This seems nuts to me, so I admire it. Good luck to them. That's another thing that tempts me about this season, even as it also makes me run away. I'd recommend this episode and I could easily imagine enjoying the season as a whole, despite all the volleyball, since so far the show's running at "three out of three" for me.
Hakuouki Otogi Soushi
Hakuouki Otogisoushi
Hakuouki ~Otogi Soushi~
Season 1
Episodes: 13 x 3 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: idiot heroine in chibi shinsengumi anime
The original Hakuouki is an video game series in the genres of historical, tragedy and otome reverse-harem. It then spawned three anime series, six OVAs, two films... and this short-form chibi spin-off. Chizuru is living with the shinsengumi (who never kill anyone) and looking for her father. "To my missing father, I hope you're well." She's bad at searching. After she's walked in on all the shinsengumi one by one, they have to tell her to try going outside. She assumes that all bald men are her father, then extends this to all spherical objects.
Maybe this would have been funny if I'd seen Hakuouki?
handa kun
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: I couldn't even make it to the end of ep.1
One-line summary: what the hell?
It's a prequel to Barakamon, which I love. I was looking forward to this. The protagonist of both series is a calligrapher called Handa-kun, who in Barakamon sends himself into exile on an island to refine his art and be tormented by the local children. (The latter wasn't in his plan.) This, on the other hand, is set about ten years earlier, while Handa-kun was still in high school.
Sounds good so far.
We start with four members of the Handa-kun fan club (all his fellow schoolboys) who are excited about a new anime called Handa-kun. They realise they've missed its first episode and start making their own. This lasted about ten minutes and was pretty dull.
After that, the episode completely forgets about those four losers and switches to a high school setting. We meet Handa-kun! A pink-haired girl called Maiko leaves a love letter in his locker, but he's so self-absorbed and dense that it doesn't occur to him that this isn't just bullying. He drops it in the bin unopened, in front of poor Maiko. Her friend gets annoyed about this, but I was wondering how much more of this I'd have to sit through. (In the end, I quit after only 17 minutes.)
Nothing about this show works for me. It keeps being unrealistic in the kind of way that's almost challenging you to like the show or else. The Handa-kun fan club are silly, but not in a good way. The art style is normal, yet Maiko's friend's head is as big as her torso. Handa's non-relationship with his teacher annoyed me a lot. No no no no no. I don't get it. What does this anime think it's doing? I still love Barakamon and for all I know this show might be nearly as good in a few episodes' time... but if I can't reach the end of ep.1, I certainly won't be watching ep.2.
haruta chika
Haruta & Chika
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: school brass band detective club
I've since finished it and... it's a modest series, but I think it's fun and underrated. It's far better than the live-action film, anyway.
That was a schizophrenic episode. I didn't like it in the beginning, but then it changed into something completely different and I enjoyed it more. It then changed again. And again.
It opens with high school students about to participate in a competition and telling each other it's amazing they've got this far. This is presumably a flashforward to the end of the series. It's also pretty generic and bland.
We then go back to our protagonist, Chika, starting high school. The volleyball club are pestering her to join them, but she's determined to jettison her violent, physical former self and become a Cute Girl. She's bought a flute and she's going to join the school music club. Her ambition is to blossom into a serene, maidenly nymph... which makes it amusingly inconvenient that her new school's brass band club members also include Haruta. Nine years ago, Haruta was her next door neighbour. She'd torture him, put frogs down his neck and so on. On unexpectedly encountering him here, at first she denies everything he says.
That's the first change of direction. The second involves music written on the blackboard in letters of blood. (It's actually red paint, but it looks bloody.) Haruta eventually turns into Sherlock Holmes and deciphers the musical code with some high-level and not particularly plausible inferences. (They're not illogical, but it's a bit weird to see a schoolboy producing them.)
And then, at the end, there's some slightly unexpected character business with Haruta and Chika. "I absolutely will not recognise this love triangle!" That made me laugh, so I decided to keep watching.
This isn't a very tidy series. It's a motorway pile-up, with the bloody wrecks of three different shows sticking out of its side. However tidiness can be overrated and I like the two main characters. Chika is probably doomed in her goal of being girly, but she has willpower regarding practice and hard work. Let's see where this goes.
sakamoto desu ga
Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto
Sakamoto desu ga?
Series 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: surreal comedy about an impossibly cool schoolboy
I've since finished it and... it's okay. Amusing sometimes.
I'd already been expecting to watch all of this show, because we own the manga. Tomoko bought it some time ago. It's quite short, only four volumes, but she'd heard good things about it long before this anime adaptation came along.
Sakamoto is cool and stylish. Ridiculously so. Everything he says and does looks as if he's posing for the camera, sometimes with sparkles. He saves birds and insects and almost everyone in his high school worships him. The girls are practically following him around on leads, although of course he holds them all at a beautifully elegant distance. The only people who don't love Sakamoto are a few boys who are jealous. The episode's mostly built on their efforts to humiliate, beat or otherwise score one over Sakamoto. Naturally these all fail in a way that make Sakamoto look even cooler. Next week, there's apparently going to be an idol girl targeting him in a way that sounds like Teruhashi in The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. (I suspect it's going to be hard to avoid comparing these two shows.)
I was slightly nonplussed by this show, to be honest. It looks okay, but so far it doesn't look like the kind of show you could marathon. It's pretty silly, based around someone so cool that he might as well have superpowers. (Again, hello, Saiki K.) It is amusing and I'll keep watching it, but so far I'm not expecting to fall in love.
Heavy Object
Episode 13 of 24
Duration: 24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: military operation
Ep.1 of this show annoyed me in 2015 with fanservice-related stupidity. This episode, on the other hand, was merely boring.
The show's premise is that war is dominated by mecha called Objects. They're fifty metres tall, they're steel balls and there's little point in ordinary soldiers if there are Objects around. However it looks as if that's not quite true any more, because our heroes (Qwenthur Barbotage and Havia Winchell) have been sent to Amazon City on an assassination mission. Their Object's been damaged. The terrain's unknown. No one wants to risk a valuable Object if a couple of disposable grunts can be sent instead!
Anyway, they've been sent to whack a genius with the improbable name of Sladder Honeysuckle. Most of the episode is about soldiers doing soldier things, which is dull. There are revelations about Honeysuckle possibly seeking asylum with some political grouping or other, which might start a four-way Object battle on this island with other political groupings. This is also dull. There are some army ants, though.
There's some attempted comedy. Milinda destroys a cockpit seat for no good reason and we're expected not to roll our eyes. There's some business about Qwenthur helping his commander last week by groping her boobs.
Ep.1 in 2015 was annoying, but I was slightly torn about whether or not to keep watching. At least the characters were interacting like human beings, except in that scene where Qwenthur removed his brain for the sake of boob-related comedy. Ep.13, though, doesn't tempt me in the slightest. I got nothing from it. At least I feel I now have a fair idea of what the series runs on, which is good, but I'm also sure it's not for me. The attempted comedy is still pushing me away. The soldiers are... soldiers. It's like the inbred love child of a mecha show and a light novel adaptation, taking only the least distinctive parts of both.
hey bot
Season 1
Episodes: 24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: vulgar gag anime for children (who'll love it)
It's a lot more distinctive than I'd expected, but it's still a merchandise-driven kiddie adventure series. Its protagonist is an eleven-year-old prince with Shounen Hero hair and he has an annoyingly high-voiced comedy robot sidekick. They have battles. I quite liked it, but fundamentally it's still not that far removed from its more formulaic siblings.
What makes it different is farting, nose-picking, vomiting (in the title sequence), toilet humour, annoying stereotypes and massive innuendo (both deliberate and unintentional).
Firstly, the farting. The show begins with farting aliens having a fart-powered battle, while being led by an alien whose nose and mouth resemble a penis and testicles. There will even be farting robots, which I'm sure the show has no intention of explaining. Farting turns a castle into a giant toilet. The closing title song is all about bottoms and underpants.
That's a lot of farting. Now for the unintentional innuendo. This show is about screwing, which I'm sure must have tormented the English translators until they threw up their hands and gave up. You see, the word "nejiru" ("screw" in Japanese) has no sexual connotation (although it can mean "distort, parody, make a pun" or "torture, wrest"). We really are talking about spiral-grooved nails. Translate it into English, though, and Nejiru Nejiru (our hero) loves screwing. He's desperate for a good screw. It's all he can think about... and yes, the English subtitles are that bad and worse, despite the lack of innuendo in the original Japanese. Really and truly, these are actual quotes:
"A screwed morning to you!"
"Screwed morning to you, too! I was just in the mood to get sticky with a Sticky-Sticky Screw!"
"I'm the screw-loving Prince Nejiru Nejiru!"
"Your long-awaited screw!"
"Yeah, it's a special screw inserted only in me."
"Leaving the castle, I'm seeing all kinds of screws I've never seen before!"
"The Screw King!"
"Since time immemorial, the God Screw has been screwed into the Screw Island Kingdom!"
That said, though, there's also deliberate innuendo from the black DJ Rap Robot from Detroit. He talks filth. He also looks like a monkey and has an accent (in Japanese) that some might call racist, although personally I'd call it "annoying".
Other comedy features include laziness gags ("the first time he's ever run for more than three minutes!"), slapstick violence and the old king doing a wiggly bottom-thrusting dance in a hula skirt. The "battles" are about who can tell the best jokes. Even the name "Heybot" is riffing off the Japanese words for "fart" and "bungling, clumsy, incompetent". Is this a parody of merchandise-driven shounen shows, or just an unusually irreverent example of the genre? (Answer: Bandai is selling toys based on the series and is also developing a free-to-play Nintendo 3DS game.) I enjoyed the childishness, but I won't be continuing because the English-only innuendo was doing my head in and because it is still at root a superficial merchandise-driven kiddie anime. I was tempted, though.
High School Fleet
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes + two OVAs
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: schoolgirls in battleships
It's the future and girls want to be Blue Mermaids, which unfortunately they don't mean literally. Blue Mermaids are female battleship crews, which are important because of... um, some backstory you won't get from this episode. (Apparently it's the future and the world sank or something. I looked that up on the internet.)
Our heroine is called Mike, which looks disconcerting in English subtitles. (It's pronounced MEE-KE, though, not MAIK.) She's a nice girl, but she doesn't have much personality and she's average to the point of being puzzled when she gets picked as ship captain. So far only one of this show's schoolgirls has a personality and she's snooty and arrogant, although I presume she'll mellow in later episodes.
I liked the brief discussion about what it means to be ship captain, but that's it for things I'd call good. I don't object to the episode, mind you. It's sort of okay. It has battleship action and stuff. However I wasn't sure why I was meant to be watching it, unless the production team thought that all they needed to do was put schoolgirls on battleships. I couldn't have told you who the characters were. There's no comedy. I wouldn't call it dramatic either, despite shooting and torpedoes. It's avoiding panty shots, so it's also not going to be sleazy. (At least that would have given the show more of a sense of purpose.) It's got a mildly fantasy/SF setting, but without the explosive silliness of something like Girls & Panzer. Frankly, it's generic. It feels as if came from an anime sausage machine. For me, it needed more personality.
Fudanshi Koukou Seikatsu
The High School Life of a Fudanshi
Fudanshi Koukou Seikatsu
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 3 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: a boy who likes BL manga
It looks quite good, actually. It has entertaining, well-defined characters. I'm not the target audience, though, and at the end of the day it's just another three-minute comedy.
The main character is called Ryou Sakaguchi and he likes BL manga, i.e. Boys' Love. That's manga about gay men for a female audience, which isn't generally aiming for a realistic portrayal of what gay men are actually like. It's female fantasy. BL fangirls call themselves "fujoshi", with "fudanshi" is the male equivalent. Sakaguchi is one of these BL fanboys, later protesting that he's not gay to his disbelieving friend at school. (The friend is elegant with long hair, incidentally, and tends to get targeted by gropers who presumably mistook him for a girl.)
(I've no idea whether or not we're meant to be believing Sakaguchi's claims, but, perhaps surprisingly, real fudanshi are indeed often straight or bi. Gay men are more likely to read "bara" manga, which is similarly about gay men but is aimed at a male audience.)
The show seems fine. It does its job pretty well. I have no objection to it whatsoever and on another day I might easily have gone on to watch the whole thing. It's not hilarious, but it looks mildly amusing.
Hitori no Shita Outcast
Hitori no Shita: the Outcast
Under One Person
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: zombies and mediocrity
The first thing I saw here was the name "Haoliners". My optimism took a hit, but I kept going. Apparently there's at least one good Chinese anime, although this isn't it.
I can't tell you very much about the first third of the episode, because I realised after seven minutes that I'd tuned out and stopped paying attention. This is a bad sign. I think the title sequence included a girl shoving her arse at the camera.
A boy is told that his grandfather's grave has been dug up. His name is Zhang Chulan (in the subtitles) or Chou Soran (if you listen to the Japanese voice actors). This is distracting, although in fairness the anime's producers can't be blamed for Western subtitle choices. Similarly his father is either Zhang Yude or Chou Yotoku, while his late grandfather was either Zhang Xilin or Chou Shakurin. This started bugging me.
A girl shows up, called either Feng Bao Bao or Fuu Houhou. She's digging up graves and she's unlikeable, but fortunately Chulan/Soran is unlikeable too. He's foul-mouthed and says things like "this is all a dream" when zombies are attacking. Meanwhile she tries rather ineffectually to kill him, but then saves him from zombies, only to walk away and leave him to fight lots of zombies on his own. Afterwards she assures her boss that Chulan/Soran will definitely survive, even though she doesn't know anything about him.
The zombies are just goons. Their job in the episode is to get killed by Bao Bao/Houhou. I found them boring and I like zombie films. Later on, though, they're said to have been kyonshi (or jiangshi in the subtitles), i.e. Chinese hopping vampires. THIS IS A DAMNED LIE. I love Chinese hopping vampires and I'd have probably kept watching had they actually appeared here.
The art's a bit cheap. The cast are slightly annoying. The story's forgettable even while you're still watching the episode. The zombies are there because Chinese anime seem to have lots of undead, even if they haven't yet worked out how to do anything interesting with them. (I say that based on a small sample size, but it seems true so far.) That said, it's sort of vaguely competent in a "watchable if you're not expecting much" way, like Bloodivores, but I'd recommend avoiding this one.
hun dred
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: hero at pseudo-magical warrior school
It's indistinguishable from absolutely everything else in an anime genre you've probably been wise enough to avoid. Except worse.
Our hero, Hayato, is starting pseudo-magical warrior school. (Mankind is under attack by aliens called Savages and our only means of defence against them is a manned flying weapon called a Hundred.) Hayato is a celebrity because he's got the highest Hundred affinity of anyone ever, but he doesn't care about that. He's only doing it because the school said they'd pay his sick sister's hospital bills!
The school's on an aircraft carrier, by the way. Our hero meets a white-haired person called Emile who's in every way the mandatory "hero's roommate and predestined other half with one-sided romantic/sexual tension." Well, I tell a lie. There's one way in which the show's putting a twist on the formula. Emile's a boy... and yet he looks like a girl, behaves like a girl, does sewing for Hayaro and reacts meaningfully to a bit where Hayato sucks Emile's finger. He even does cliched harem anime things like be in Hayato's bedroom wearing only a towel, then attack Hayato for the crime of walking into his own room.
This is a very mild subversion and I actually quite liked it. It's slightly interesting... but I'm not convinced that Emile isn't really a girl pretending to be a boy. Hmmm. Let me check wikipedia. Ah, yes, I guessed correctly. That's not much consolation.
Now comes the really stupid bit. The school's student council president is a girl (Claire Harvey) with silly ringlets and a ton of attitude. She expels two students for being late to a school assembly (even though it's really Hayato's fault), then expels Emile when (s)he protests about this. Does a student council president have the power to expel her fellow students? Admittedly anime student councils are liable to be as powerful as galactic empires or world dictators, but this school is teaching pseudo-magical warriors with mystical "Hundred affinity" to save the Earth. I'm not sure it's a great idea to go expelling people on what's basically a whim.
Claire then challenges Hayato to a duel, saying that she'll reverse the expulsions if he wins. This school's admissions procedure is looking ever dodgier. Emile accepts on Hayato's behalf, never doubting that he'll win even though Claire is the school's most experienced warrior and Hayato's never used a Hundred in his life. Emile then takes Hayato for a practice bout and unleashes attacks on him that looked potentially fatal.
I'd have probably been okay if it hadn't been for the expulsion/duel nonsense, but unfortunately that's most of the episode. Apart from that, though, Hayato seems likeable in a cut-and-pasted genre way. (Script fiat has given him mysterious superpowers and he's officially the greatest man in the world, but he's too modest to want any attention for that and he prioritises his sister's medical care above saving the Earth.) I quite like Emile. However I can't ignore the stupid writing and I suspect there might be more to come in later episodes. Run away.
arslan senki
The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Dust Storm Dance
Arslan Senki: Fuujin Ranbu
Season 2
Episodes: 8 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: kings and battles in epic historical fantasy
I've since finished it and... it's doing exactly what it says on the tin.
It's more Arslan! It's a time when men were men, swords were compulsory and brains were optional! (Arslan's all right, but don't expect much of his family.) Our hero's still trying to take back the kingdom of Pars (Persia) from the invading Lusitanians (Crusaders), but now he's got a third country deciding that this would be a good time to invade. If your enemies are killing each other, that's the best time to take them by surprise! Bad move. Arslan has Narsus to advise him. The resulting battle is huge and couldn't have been animated like this in the days when everything was hand-drawn.
The show's more familiar scumbags are back in force too. I think we catch up with pretty much every major enemy of Arslan's, including one particularly surprising gentleman. I'd been hoping he'd been eaten by rats, or perhaps sold as a slave after having his arms and legs chewed off. Alas, no. He'll be trouble.
It's exactly what I'd expected, but in a positive way. Solid storytelling, high production values and a quality show all round. It's still largely about men with swords, but it's worth a look anyway.
Masou Gakuen HxH
Hybrid x Heart Magias Academy Ataraxia
Masou Gakuen HxH
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: orgasm-powered battles with aliens
We begin with a close-up of huge, heaving breasts, almost entirely unhindered by clothing. "I'm only doing this because it's our mission!" protests their owner. They're fighting aliens! She has an orgasm and charges up with battle energy.
We now meet someone with even more ridiculous breasts. The only term for her is "Boob Monster". She tells our hero to do it with her too.
All that was before the opening credits.
Kizuna Hida is a new student at Strategic Defense Academy Ataraxia, although he's not happy about it. He's been ordered here, as per this conversation:
PHONE: "Kizuna, did you make it here okay?"
KIZUNA: "Big sister! Yeah, I just got here! But is it really okay for me to attend Ataraxia? My grades aren't that great and I was already kicked out of here once."
PHONE: "I don't want to hear your excuses! I need you, and your Heart Hybrid Gear!"
After that pre-credits sequence, we're being told that his sister needs him. Yikes. Later on, that sister will also be ordering him to have sex with unconscious girls and giving him instructions on how hard to squeeze their boobs. If you're not scared by where this might go, you haven't watched enough anime. (Admittedly "big sister" can also be used as a general term of address for non-siblings, but I got the impression that this was more likely to be an actual sister.)
Kizuna meets a third pair of boobs. They're attached to someone so obnoxious that she's going to become Kizuna's main love interest. Then, though... ALIEN ATTACK! The school is on a war footing, with some serious defence hardware. Their front line defence forces, though, are girls who have nude transformation sequences and need an orgasm power-up.
Is there any reason to watch this show? Well, I'll give it points for shamelessness. It's a hentai, basically, and only slightly toned down. (In fairness it's all softcore, with no penetration, but that doesn't change the fact that it's delighting in its own ridiculousness.) Later episodes may or may not develop a worthwhile storyline and/or characterisation. I don't know. They might. I won't be finding out. There's more offensive sleaze out there (e.g. Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid) and the show doesn't look unwatchable, but so far it doesn't look good either.