Here we go again. With preview week basically over (I’ll add the last couple if/when they show up), it’s time to run down every last goddamn show I’ve watched, including basically every full-length non-sequel premier of the season. That is a disturbing amount of anime, and so today you will be receiving a disturbing amount of High Quality Content. Not high quality anime, mind you, but certainly plenty of Content. Although actually, this season’s premiers largely turned out much less disappointing than I’d expected – there were disappointments and surprises, but the overall crop was fairly reasonable. That comes with a couple caveats, of course. First, there’s the plain that that first episodes lie – they trick you and torture you, stringing you along with one good idea and then collapsing into mediocrity. And second, while there were plenty of “good enough” shows, there were basically no highlights, and many of the reasonable shows are just “good for this genre.” So, like, I gave a three to Monster Musume and Actually, I Am…, but that’s a three harem and a three harem-romcom. Plenty of the shows I think are “generally fine” I will not actually be following – in fact, there’s a decent chance I only stick with the top three.
Anyway! I’ll run things down by broad category, and you can make your own judgments from there. LET’S GET TO IT.
Actually Recommendation-Worthy Anime
Gatchaman Crowds Insight: To the surprise of probably no one, the returning champion had the easy best premier of the season. And honestly, it wasn’t even the strongest premier! This episode felt kinda rambling and aimless, even though it packed in a lot of interesting information. But Gatchaman is back, and it’s just as full of compelling ideas as ever, and it looks like this season will be smartly and immediately pressing forward from its old themes, and not simply reiterating them. The question of How We People and How We Culture in the internet age isn’t solvable by any thirteen-episode cartoon, but Gatchaman is gonna do its best.
Classroom Crisis: This one seems to be the first candidate for that aforementioned “first episodes lie” issue. Classroom Crisis’ premier was engaging and full of energy, but it also felt like the kind of pilot the show might not live up to. But as it stands, this show has a solid cast, some interesting internal conflicts, and a compelling core idea. High school scenarios have been done to death, and so have “super” high schools, but a high school of traditionally talented kids working as psuedo-engineers within an ominous corporate shell? I think there’s something there. We’ll have to see.
Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers: Fun action is fun. Rokka had a very solid fight scene, some nice banter between the leads, and a unique psuedo-Mesoamerican aesthetic – this premier wasn’t Rage of Bahamut-level good, but it was close enough to make the comparison a reasonable one. Production is one of the easiest things to have fall apart, and even this first episode had a bit of a pacing issue, but it’s still the best action-adventure prospect at the moment. Worth a look.
Reasonable Genre Stuff
Gangsta: This one’s a mood piece more than anything – grizzled and slow-burning and full of dirty cops and deadly dames. It seems to be trying to bring a bit of the class of something like Bebop to the structure of something more like Black Lagoon, and the execution so far is about evenly hit and miss. I’m giving it another episode.
Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace: This one’s on noitaminA and based on classic novels, but it’s directed by Seiji Kishi, so, pluses and minuses. But the actual first episode was a solid page-turner, full of reasonable hooks and progressing at a good pace. Anime also just doesn’t get that many good mystery stories, and this seems like a solid one so far.
…wait, just watched the second episode. Not so sure anymore.
Overlord: This one I actually liked, even beyond just a “well, I guess it works for this genre” level, but it’s another one that seems like it might have been a deceptive premier. This first episode of one more trapped-in-an-MMO show rode basically on its smart evocation of the poignant mood specific to an old beloved world ending. Watching an MMO you’ve loved and spent time with friends in die is a strange feeling, and this episode really nailed that. But of course, the world actually isn’t dying, and so things could likely get much more mundane from here. But this episode was nice.
Semi-Reasonable Genre Stuff
Actually, I Am…: So yep, we’re already well into the “this is good for its genre” territory, with this one being an endearing throwback to old-school romcom shenanigans. The two leads have a strong chemistry, which is more important than basically anything else in these shows, and that’s basically all this one’s got going for it.
Himouto! Umaru-chan: This is one of those based-on-a-4koma-or-similar shows that so very easily fall apart over time, but the first episode was a good mix of hamster girl throwing tantrums about One Piece and hamster girl falling off of exercise balls. Apparently chibi teenagers being ridiculous people can be pretty funny!
Ushio and Tora: And here we’ve got “good for an early 90s shounen action show.” MAPPA really did some work on this one, so if you’re in the mood for hot-blooded dudes with big hair yelling at demons, here ya go.
Charlotte: New Jun Maeda show, but the first episode was alright. The lead’s a jerk, solid animation… losing… strength…
Monster Musume: Dear god, I liked the monster girl harem. What am I doing here. Is this my life now.
Okay, only a few shows to go. I can do this.
Snow White with the Red Hair: Had hopes for this one, but the leads in this first episode felt like milquetoast and milquetoastette. A very beautiful articulation of a very typical story with none of the character hooks that can bring such stories to life. Hopefully they gain some texture over time.
GATE: My military-fetishizing harem fantasy adventure is wrong, as I expected.
Castle Town Dandelion: This show was intensely harmless, but also did nothing to recommend itself. If you want to watch a show about a big family with lame jokes and a silly premise, this is definitely a show that exists.
Aoharu x Machinegun: Watch C3-bu, it’s a way better BB gun show than this one. Unless you’re specifically looking for cute boys. This show does have cute boys, but the animation is bad, so they’re sadly not as cute as they could be. C+ Cute Boys.
SCHOOL-LIVE!: Look, even if you’re going to make your show entirely reliant on a last-minute twist, you can’t just let the first 95% of your opening episode be utterly tedious. Hooks don’t work that way, anime. This is not complicated.
Burn It Down and Salt the Earth
Chaos Dragon: Urobuchi, what you do in your free time is your own business. Please stop consenting to let people turn your table scraps and grocery lists into full-length animated productions.
Shimoneta: Gamergate Was Right, The Anime. The thought police are coming for your boob jokes.
Sky Wizards Academy: Congratulations, anime. Toast in mouth collision into boob grab into “you think I’m flat?!?” into “HENTAIII~!!!” We have arrived at the bad anime singularity. God help us all.