The preview guide has come to a close, and I covered every damn show except “that Warring States Thing That’s Apparently Just A Worse Sengoku Basara,” so we’ve got plenty to talk about. We get a lot of anime every season, and none of you guys are receiving hazard pay for suffering through the worst of it, so I’m very ready to run down what demands to be watched, what you could maybe watch I guess if you feel like it, and what should be handled with lead-lined gloves and disposed of in a properly licensed waste treatment facility. I wasn’t really expecting much of this season, but the opening episodes ended up offering a stellar first and second tier of shows – yeah, first episodes are often liars, but it’s still nice to start off on the right foot. This post here will give you brief rankings and descriptions of everything I muddled through this week, along with links to the ANN pages containing my longer thoughts. Let’s run them down!
Watch These Shows. No, Stop Asking Questions. Go Watch
Yuri Kuma Arashi: To the surprise of no one, Ikuhara’s new show has turned out to be fantastic so far. Perhaps even more surreal and metaphor-driven than his last two works, Yuri Kuma Arashi is silly and beautiful and rich and driven. I love the aesthetic, the ideas he’s playing with, the playful sense of reality – it’s almost as smutty as those preview ads would have suggested, and it totally owns that. This show is a great time.
The Rolling Girls: What a beautiful first episode this was. Lovely diversity of visual styles, gorgeous animation, and all the disparate visual ideas complementing each other due to the looseness of the whole. Plus its wild aesthetic seems tied to a story halfway between Yozakura Quartet and Kyousogiga, which is clearly an excellent place to be. With only one episode out, Rolling Girls could still easily fall apart, but you couldn’t ask for a stronger start than this.
Incidentally, I’m gonna be picking this one up for weekly ANN posts!
Yatterman Night: I may or may not have started tearing up over the first episode of this show. Cannot confirm, reports vary. All I can say is that this is was a wonderful first episode that established a lovely little family of characters and an evocative setting with great writing, direction, and animation. It’s kind of like Sekai Seifuku, except more immediate in its heartwarming melancholy. It’s good stuff.
Death Parade: Honestly, Death Parade is not really my kind of show – it’s hammy and kinda mean-spirited and all about the Overt Plot. But even though it’s not my thing specifically, it’s still a very well-constructed thing – the art direction is great, the character animation is excellent, and the story is tightly paced. It’s also very likely this season’s most accessible show, so if you’re at all interested in kinda morbid dramas, Death Parade’s the place to be.
These Shows Are Good. You Should Watch Them
The Idolmaster – Cinderella Girls: Having never seen the first season, I didn’t really know what to expect from this one, but this first episode was great. The shot layouts and animation are excellent, the writing is endearing, and Producer is the breakout character of the season. Cinderella Girls is a student of the KyoAni school of understated character moments (with good reason – check out the director’s resume), and that’s one of the best schools around.
Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!: Look, I know. I can see the title just as well as you can. Earth Defense Club is a total farce, but it’s a fun and fast-paced one with both lots of actual jokes and a general low-key sense of snark that keeps momentum high. Comedies are basically coin flip recommendations, but you know how rarely I like anime comedies, and this first episode definitely worked for me. Worth a look.
Maria the Virgin Witch: Maria was one of my random hopefuls of the season preview, and so far it’s lived up to that random hope. The main draw here is the writing – Maria takes place in a far more grounded fantasy world than most anime (in fact, it’s specifically set during the Hundred Years War), and the dialogue is likewise more grounded than most shows. Could easily be this season’s stable Chaika-like.
These Shows Are Genre-Level. Watch If They Seem Like Your Thing
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders Pt. II: JoJo is back, and it’s basically right where we left it. The animation and art direction here actually looked a bit worse than the better parts of Stardust Part One, so I’m not sure there’s much hope we’ll be seeing a new and improved JoJo, but if you enjoyed Stardust Crusaders, here’s more of that.
Assassination Classroom: Assassination Classroom was competently executed, but felt like the kind of story a teenager would write. Its “cool” moments were too loud and silly to be engaging, and its themes seem reflective of a worldview too young to be very insightful. But if you’re looking for a kind of Battle Royale or Danganronpa-style spectacle, it’ll probably cover you.
Shounen Hollywood – Set Stage for 50: Shounen Hollywood is back, and is as weirdly understated and kind of melancholy as ever. I’m continuously surprised this show exists at all, much less exists so thoroughly that it’s spawned a sequel, but I’m not sure I’ll have the time to follow the ride this time.
These Shows Aren’t Good, So I Guess If You Dislike Good Things You Could Watch Them
Saekano: The first episode of Saekano actually made me kind of angry – the smugness of its self-awareness made me want to shake the damn show by the shoulders. It’s the same thing as NGNL – these shows revel in pointing out their own bad elements, but they don’t actually improve on those elements. It’s like they’re proud to be bad, proud to not understand being aware of bad art doesn’t make you instantly good art. That said, the writing was actually pretty competent, so if the show starts being honest instead of smug, it might turn out okay.
Kantai Collection: KanColle’s team have successfully turned an absurdly premised browser game into a generic slice of life/sports drama. Nice work, team.
Aldnoah.Zero 2: Aldnoah’s back, and yeah, it’s dumb. It’s pretty funny seeing the show fall even more heavily into the Cult of Inaho here, but I’m not really much of a hatewatcher, so I think this is where I get off.
Koufuku Graffiti: If you’re looking for one part sensual food porn and two parts slice of life family time, Koufuku Graffiti is somehow a lot less interesting than that description would imply.
Let’s See If I Can Say One Good Thing About These Sacks of Garbage
The Testament of Sister New Devil: Neither of the sisters involved are as bad as Kirino.
Absolute Duo: The OP animation is pretty cool.
World Break: It was over in twenty minutes.
And that’s it! Hopefully at least some portion of that crazy spread seems appealing – personally, I’m probably going to be following up on everything “Good” or higher along with JoJo. And considering I’ve still got four carryovers from the fall season… yeah, this is looking pretty dense. Please stay good, new anime!