Cooler Nights — That Means It’s Time for the Fall 2016 Anime Preview (Part 2)!

I’ve taken the opportunity presented by the recent announcement of Crunchyroll’s and Funimation’s partnership to streamline how I blog about the seasons. Instead of a post for Crunchyroll and a post for Funimation seasons, I’ll just post about the series regardless of its streaming home. That’s probably overdue, anyway, given how I recently reviewed Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, which streamed on Amazon Prime.

This season, though, it looks like Crunchyroll has a monopoly on my attention. I’m thoroughly excited about several titles, like Hibike! Euphonium 2 and Drifters. Others, like Occultic;Nine, well, best to just read the overview in the post…

Here’s the second installment of what I’m watching this season! If you missed part 1, you can read it here.

Note: I’m trying something new: listing the day/time new episodes should be released. I’m confident in the sources I’m using, but if you see any errors, please do leave a comment so I can make corrections!

Drifters

10:30AM Fridays on Crunchyroll

Toyohisa Shimazu is the kind of warrior you want on your side. I.e., the side you don't have to fight against! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Toyohisa Shimazu is the kind of warrior you want on your side. I.e., the side you don’t have to fight against! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

The story starts around 1600 AD in Japan. The civil wars that had bloodied the nation were coming to an end, and the country stood on the edge of reunification. But the battles weren’t over yet. The story starts during the Battle of Sekigahara.  Toyohisa Shimazu, the army he served already beaten, nevertheless refused to give ground so his uncle, Yoshihiro Shimazu, could retreat and survive. The fighting was brutally realistic. Shimazu’s exploits made it clear while history remembers him to this day. He went so far as to leap onto a thicket of spears, knowing he’d be impaled, so he could get his firearm close enough to shoot an enemy general.

According to history, Toyohisa Shimazu died in that battle in 1600. Drifters, though, has other plans for him. As he drug himself away from the battlefield, leaving a diminishing trail of blood, he suddenly found himself in what would look to us like a tiled hallway. Doors of various kinds — stone, wood, steel — lined both walls. A spectacled man sat at the desk, obviously busy with paperwork. The scene reminded me so much of Half Life 2 that I would not have been the least bit surprised if the man had said, “The right man in the wrong place can make all the difference… in the world.” Instead, the man said, “Next,” and Shimazu tried to draw his sword.

I don’t want to spoil what happens next if you haven’t read the manga (like me!). I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but from that point onward, the show had me completely off guard — in a good way!

I can’t even tell you the other character’s names for fear of spoiling the surprise.

The battle scenes conveyed the horror, and the insane dedication to honor, of the times. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
The battle scenes conveyed the horror and the insane dedication to honor facing the soliders. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

What smacked me in the face as I started watching the Drifters’ first episode was its art style. It looked like an ancient Japanese woodblock printing brought to life! It retained this distinctive style throughout, and while I found it at first a little off-putting, by the end of the first episode, I decided that the style was such a great match to the action and characters, that I liked it. It perfectly reflects the show’s mood and tone.

The show’s violent — and unapologetically so. It’s violence, though, reflected the era, so for me, it dramatically fit.

I’m not sure where the show’s going, but I’ll say this: it has me hooked. I’m ready for the next episode!

This series is in contention for one of the two series I’ll review this season.

Occultic;Nine

12:30PM EST Saturdays on Crunchyroll

Holy crap, could the characters talk any faster?

That was my first impression of Occultic;Nine. I had to take a break 6 minutes in due to fatigue! My second impression was, “Poor Ryoka Narusawa! Her back has to absolutely ache…”

With friends like Ryoka Narusawa, I'm not sure Yūta Gamon stands a chance. And her smile is so happy and innocent, too! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream
With friends like Ryoka Narusawa… I’m not sure Yūta Gamon stands a chance. And her smile is so happy and innocent, too! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

The show’s about the turbulence between magic and science. Mix some of Persona 4‘s character models, some of Bakemonogatari’s lighting and camera angles, the blood bath from Another’s ending, and then force all the characters to consume ten times the recommended daily dosage of caffeine, and you should have an idea of what the first episode looked like.

As far as I could tell (and I’m less certain than usual), the show follows Yūta Gamon, who runs an affiliate website that consolidates occult stories. He dreams of hitting it big making money off his affiliate links. When he’s sitting in the usually deserted restaurant he’s made his base of operations, he wears a coat with a high collar. In that regard, he reminds me of Haruna from Arpeggio of Blue Steel, but without her cool intelligence and with a lighter coat. The aforementioned Ryoka Narusawa is his assistant. She alternately urges him on and abuses him. In an attempt to drive up site visits (and therefore income), they try to interview amateur (and very popular) fortune-teller Miyū Aikawa. They’re shocked when she says she’s been looking for Gamon and asks to work with him.

That’s not all that happened in this episode. It starts with an inexplicable mass drowning. There’s a murder, a scalp, an enchantress, at least one demon, and a disenchanted youth. Or two. Or three.

And I thought Kill la Kill packed a lot into each episode!

Despite the fatigue in induced, I think the show’s frenetic energy, attractive characters, and style won me over. I know this show has received a lot of hype, and it’s reliance on style might be a warning sign that it might be all style and no substance. Then I remember my first reaction to Kill la Kill, and I decided Occultic;Nine is worth the risk.

I liked the music, too. I wonder why they skipped 8 in the ED?

Anime News Network has a good overview of the show and its characters. Honey’s Anime has previews, a summary, and a, let’s say, more blunt assessment of the characters than I provided.

Brave Witches

2:05PM EST Wednesdays on Crunchyroll

Hikari is absolutely determined to prove herself. It's hard not to root for a struggling and big-hearted underdog! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Hikari is absolutely determined to prove herself. It’s hard not to root for a struggling and big-hearted underdog! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Okay, let me just get this off my chest: Why don’t any of witches wear pants?

Some context: I watched and enjoyed the first season of the predecessor series, Strike Witches. They didn’t wear pants, either, but it didn’t seem like a big deal. Maybe their flying apparatus on their lower legs required skin contact?* Maybe it was just their way of expressing their individual freedom? But then the second season happened, and the camera seemed really good at position itself at suggestive angles as the witches flew around. I’m not a prude (as evidence I offer one of my favorite series: Monster Musume!). It’s just that fanservice that’s not under the control and direction of the characters in question is troublesome.

Unfortunately, Brave Witches seems to follow the example of Strike Witches’ second season during its intro and exit (so. many. times.). I really wish they’d tone that back a bit. Some of those characters are awfully young…

Okay. That being said. How was the first episode?

I admit I liked it. I liked it in spite of Mr. Camera and his ecchi ways.

Hikari Karibuchi is the main character this time around. Still in school and struggling to keep up with her classmates, she dreams of living up to the high standard of witch-hood set by her sister, Takami Karibuchi. Her sister’s already in the military, and she was the hero of a recent battle. Of course, the village adores her; so does her sister. Even better, Takami is really cool about the whole thing, and she encourages her sister. The show has that going for it.

In school, Hikari’s not so lucky. She has supportive friends, yes, but one of her classmates, an overachiever determined to make her mark on the world, relentlessly berates Hikari for her fumbling attempts at flight and simulated combat. When the instructor asks the class for a volunteer to go to the European theater to provide support, Hikari and the overachiever both volunteer. They have to compete to see who gets to go.

Takami seems happy to support her little sister. Always nice to see family togetherness! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Takami seems happy to support her little sister. Always nice to see family togetherness! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I won’t give away what happens. I’ll just say that the ending wasn’t a shock, but it was enjoyable.

We’ve only met a few of the characters so far, but I thought those we have met argue well for the series’ furture. If you’d like to see a lineup of the main characters, please check out this article on Honey’s Anime.

Now, if I could only convince the camera to be a little more circumspect while the young women are airborne…

* Though if that’s the case, I’d like to use this opportunity to introduce the witches to cycling shorts. They were good enough for Kanbaru from Bakemonogatari. And before you say, “Why, those weren’t invented in World War II,” I’d like to point out we’re talking about a series of witches. Flying in the sky. In panties. I’m not convinced a fashion anachronism would be a problem!

Post Author: tcrow