Spring 2016 Anime Slate: Funimation Edition
Hard to believe the Winter 2016’s season already done, and the Spring 2016 season’s underway! Though the number of series I’m watching this season on Funimation is lower, there are some gems here:
Note: Ordinarily, I review one series from Crunchyroll and one from Funimation every season. This time, though, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, streaming on Amazon Prime, was too tempting to pass up. So, in Spring 2016, you won’t find a Funimation review on Crow’s World of Animation! I think it’s a temporary thing, though. Funimation has consistently had a strong lineup, and I’m sure something will catch my attention next season.
This series returns for a second season of insightful and sometimes harsh social criticism. We rejoin Jirou Hitoyoshi after he’s pulled away from the Superhuman Bureau because it came under the increasing control of the military and government. As the first season clearly proved, he could not protect superhumans from within the Bureau, so he struck out to create a community that could protect them.
Two members of the Superhuman Bureau didn’t want him to leave for personal reasons. His longtime companion, Emi Kino, still tries to lure him back. She’s confident and is playing a long game, but she’s frustrated at the youthful expressions of emotion from the other member who didn’t want him to leave: Kikko Hoshino. The two of them are at odds, though Hoshino is only barely aware of it and Kino refrains from taking any drastic action at our respect for Hitoyoshi.
The first couple of episodes seem to carry on the themes of the first season. Just as circumstance had to pound the idea into Hitoyoshi’s head that he could not achieve justice from within the Superhuman Bureau, the first episode did the same thing for detective Raito Shiba. The show gives the main characters the time and space to learn these things on their own, and we in the audience get to see those experiences from the perspectives of the characters. I don’t recall a show so effectively dramatizing the different points of view. I think that’s one of this show’s strength.
The animation is on par with the first season: bright colors, backgrounds given an almost screened/comic-book effects, and dynamic action sequences are all in evidence. The show’s also able to pull off a character like Kino, who’s a powerful, deadly spirit, but who looks like an normal though somewhat glamorous woman. Her personality can switch from polite and social to feral in an instant, and it always feels natural. Though I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of one of her feral moods…
I’m hopeful now that the show’s established the pervasive level of injustice in society, that it will show us how the characters effect some kind of resolution — for better or worse. I’d hate to be left hanging!
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Hideki Nishimura enjoyed playing online fantasy games. He’d been playing for years — long enough to have had the embarrassing experience of confessing his love to a lovely young woman on line, only to find out she was a he in real life! Now, in a guild with three other members, he was very careful about showing affection. Until, that is, the guild’s healer confessed her love to him. Though he tried to keep her at a distance, she eventually wore him down. He finally thought that even if she was another he in the real world, in the gaming world she was a lovely woman who seemed to genuinely care for him, so he agreed to marry her.
As you might expect, the four of them decided to get together in real life. Imagine his shock when he found that all three of his fellow players were women! Akane Segawa was someone who in real life said she hated Nishimura and gaming in general, so he was surprised to learn that she played — let alone was part of his squad. He was likewise surprised to see Kyoh Goshoin, student council president, was also on his team, especially given that her online personality was so rambunctious and in real life, she was mature and reserved. Most shocking of all to him, though, was Ako Tamaki, his wife on line: she looked exactly the same in real life! She had never really grasped the idea that her online persona should be different from her real persona. And she appeared to have difficulty separating her friendships online with her friendships in real life.
Of course, that caused major trouble in the second episode when Tamaki, while in school, acted as if Nishimura was her husband and Goshoin, who wanted to continue seeming aloof and demeaning to gamers, was her best friend.
The show has a nearly uncomfortable amount of fanservice (perhaps the writers have forgotten that not every physical movement requires a bounce) that doesn’t really seem to further the plot. The story is also a little bit predictable (so far, anyway). That being said, Tamaki is so energetic and earnest that it’s hard not to root for her. Nishimura is less hapless than most male characters in his situation. He’s a decent tank (front line fighter) in the online game, and his complaints about Tamaki’s character not healing him quickly enough, thus ensuring that he not only dies but looses the opportunity for some experience points, are entirely valid. Goshoin is the group’s tsundere, but I like it when she and Nishimura have to put their heads together to figure out how to help Tamaki separate real life and game life without hurting her feelings. I think Segawa is probably the least well defined, but the season’s young. I think the Encyclopedia Galactica would classify the show as Mostly Harmless.
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Yōko Nishikawa was sitting alone during her lunch break, and she was eating a bag of bread crusts. She felt downcast and lonely. As she sat there munching, she didn’t know that Futaba Odagiri had purchased so much food (as usual!) that she was having trouble balancing it as she searched for a quiet place to eat. Nor did Nishikawa know that the class representative, Teru Hayama, had seen her favorite thing in the world — a cat — and was crashing through the brush to chase it. Odagiri and Hayama almost ran over Nishikawa, who was shocked at the invasion of her privacy. She was further shocked — though secretly pleased — when the other two sat down and started eating lunch. They even pulled her into the conversation!
That’s how their unlikely friendship began. Nishikawa had been a rich girl until her father’s business tanked, and she is now close to yen-less. She’s trying to maintain her pride, but it’s hard when she’s eating bread crusts. Sometimes one of her old servants, who now works delivering food to the school, gives her merchandise that hasn’t sold and that is close to the expiration date. Odagiri is scatter-brained, but it kind-hearted and full of energy. She happy to make friends with the lonely Nishikawa, not out of pity, but because she just wants to be friends! Hayama is probably my favorite of the three. She’s unfailingly polite and as class representative, she tries to cheerfully enforce the rules. But she has a dangerous streak. Another student confronted her over a misunderstanding and asked her to come outside to settle the matter. Smiling, Hayama agreed. Odagiri said to go easy on her and the accuser snapped that she wouldn’t take orders from her. Odagiri said that she was talking to Hayama.
Apparently, Hayama has a history of dealing with issues. There was some mention of the accuser crying later in the episode…
Three Leaves, Three Colors, at least so far, is a sweet slice of life series. The characters are likable and have interesting quirks. The secondary characters are helping move the story alone. The animation is fluid and fun to watch, especially when it comes to the character’s expressions. At the end of a rough day at work, this is a fun show to watch to just relax.
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Izuku Midoriya wanted nothing more than to emulate the heroes he studied every day. In his world, many people are born with Quirks, which are genetic mutations that give people super powers. Midoriya anxiously awaits adolescence, when Quirks should appear. He’s devastated when he learns he’s one of the minority who won’t manifest a Quirk. He still wants to go to the best hero academy, in case he blooms late, but this angers his childhood acquaintance, Katsuki Bakugou, who wants to be the only one from their high school to attend the best hero academy. Bakugou goes to the length of publicly humiliating Midoriya so badly that even Bakugou’s friends say he went too far.
Dejected, Midoriya doesn’t want to give up, yet he can’t see a clear way forward. That’s when he meets his idol, the hero All Might. All Might’s modus operandi is to perform amazing feats of physical strength to save people, and do it all with a huge smile.
Midoriya doesn’t so much meet All Might as All Might savesMidoriya from a powerful slime monster. After autographing Midoriya’s notebook, he begins to walk away. Desperate, Midoriya asks if he can be a hero without a Quirk. All Might pauses, then says that Midoriya might consider being a police officer instead. It might not be as glamorous or respected a profession as hero, but he could still help others. Then, something happened that turned Midoriya’s world on its head.
The animation is big and bold, much like All Might’s personality. In the first episode, the scenes where Midoriya endured bullying were emotionally affecting; I found them to be so realistic that they were hard to watch. I’ve only seen the first two episodes (episode 3 just came out as I write this), but so far, the show’s on a good trajectory. I’m looking forward to seeing what our hero Midoriya can achieve without a Quirk!
Amazon has many volumes from the manga available: