I hope all of you enjoyed the 2016 holidays (and if you didn’t celebrate any, I hope you enjoyed the last weeks of 2016)! As hard as it is to believe, it’s time for the Winter 2017 anime season!
Just as there were last season, there are a lot of good shows to choose from. If you’re interested in what fans have said they’re looking forward to, you can check out this article from Anime News Network. I got some ideas of what to watch from that list. Speaking of what I’ve watched, here’s part I of what I’m watching this season:
Crunchyroll; Wednesdays at 9:00AM EST
Oh, Japan! Based on a video game called Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed, this show’s premise is that the good guys need to strip the bad guys because sunlight defeats them. Or air pressure. Or something. The point is, combat stripping is involved.
I guess the success of Keijo!!!!!!!! had emboldened some studios…
Our hero is Tamotsu Denkigai. He’s enjoying a day out in Akiba with his sister, Niwaka Denkigai, when he gets a text that a rare figure’s been released. He rushes to the nearby store only to fight over the figure with Arisa Ahokainen, who turns out to be every bit as knowledgeable as he is about the figure’s series. Before she can purchase the figure, though, she’s attacked by Matome
. Ahokainen escapes as Tamotsu sees a news story about a store being attacked by terrorists. Knowing the store was his sister’s destination, he rushes over…
Let’s just say the rest of the episode involves fighting, lost clothes, and a significant change in Tamotsu’s living conditions, thanks to Mayonaka.
The show’s animation was solid. It’s hard to tell how deep the characters are, but it was refreshing to see Tamotsu and Ahokainen talking with such unabashed enjoyment about their favorite series. It’s also hard to tell, just one episode in, how coherent the plot will be. Those three things are what made Keijo!!!!!!!! such a delight to watch. I mean, it’s impossible not to root for Nozomi Kaminashi! Her delight in the sport was infectious, and seeing such a strong, ambitious, and resourceful character succeed was a lot of fun.
Can Akiba’s Trip live up to that standard? Right now, I’m giving it even odds.
Crunchyroll; Fridays at 1:30PM EST
Before watching this, be aware:
- Yes, this is season 2 of Blue Exorcist.
- No, it doesn’t pick up where season 1 left off
Anime News Network’s review of the first episode points out that this season starts just after season 1’s episode 17, Temptation, ends. If you aren’t aware of this and starting watching the first episode of season 2, Small Beginnings, you’re going to feel really confused!
That being said, how was this episode?
It was awesome to see Rin Okumura, the literal son of Satan, and his brother Yukio Okumura back in action. As the show opens, it’s just become public knowledge that Satan is Rin’s father, and the Order of the True Cross is very suspicious of Rin. Some members even want him killed out of hand! They place him under the supervision of Shura Kirigakure. The two of them join Yukio as he investigates an attack on one of the Order’s strongholds, which had been keeping a sealed evil relic called the Left Eye of the Impure King. Even as they’re trying to save a small child who had been taken hostage, other evil doers attack the stronghold guarding the Right Eye. The Order repulses the attack, but fears of another attempt drive Rin and Kirigakure to join other exorcists on train heading for the stronghold.
I mentioned how great it was to see Rin again. I had the same experience when we get to see Shiemi Moriyama, Ryuji Suguro, Konekomaru Miwa, and Izumo Kamiki again. Except this time, Rin’s friends weren’t his friends; they had just learned that he’s actually the son of Satan, and most of them are either terrified of him or want him killed. Seeing even Moriyama shy away from him was heartbreaking! I got a real sense of the alienation Rin had to feel, though he did his best to hide it.
Of course, Kamiki being Kamiki, she just sits beside Rin as if nothing were going on. She’s not scared of him, and given that her family has demon blood (White Foxes), she’s more open minded about Rin’s possibilities, though she’s certainly not gentle with him.
I’ve missed these characters!
Though it’s hard to forget Season 1 episodes 18 through 25, I’m really excited about this season of Blue Exorcist. The art fits right in with the first season; the voices talent’s top notch; and the characters are great.
This will be one of the series I review this season.
Crunchyroll; Fridays at 12:30PM EST
The first episode of Schoolgirl Strikers introduces us to the five attractive young women, the main characters, who attend the all-girls Goryoukan Academy. I remember lots of short skirts; I remember the girls going through a magical-girl like transformation to fight the Oburi, who are Gumby-shaped invaders from another dimension; and I remember a team of more experienced veterans — all young women — showing up in even more skimpy outfits.
Apparently, a modest woman would not want to move up in the ranks in this show…
Oh! And I remember that the headmistress’ tailor must work for a vacuum-forming service.
What I can’t remember is a show whose characters left less of an impression on me. It’s not that the animation’s poor; it’s just that the characters seem so much like other characters I’ve seen before that none of them stand out. For example, even after watching the first episode of Flip Flappers, I could pick Cocona or Papika out of a lineup, even if it was audio only! The were so distinctive that they were easy to remember. Heck, even after watching one episode of Seiren, I can recognize Hikari Tsuneki even though she looks a lot like her friends, because she she has a distinctive personality. I’ll talk about Seiren in my Winter 2017 preview part II.
I tried to like the show because I’ve always enjoyed strong, resource characters, especially if they’re female. I’ll probably watch a few more episodes to be sure, but I’m not hopeful.
Crunchyroll; Fridays at 10:30AM EST
‘Tis the season for alternate histories! In Fall 2016, we had Izetta: The Last Witch. Now, we visit an alternate World War I. This time, Germania/Germany is called the Empire. Due to an error in strategy, it’s teetering on the edge of disaster.
Tanya Degurechaff is a blonde, blue-eyed child who’s also a second Lieutenant in the Imperial military. She’s an aviation mage, which means she uses magic to fly and combat the enemy’s airborne mages and ground-based troops. When the show opens, she’s on patrol with Viktoriya Ivanovna Serebryakov (whose character design reminds me strongly, in a good way, of My Hero Academia), who’s an aviation mage just out of school. Two others from her military class are flying with them. Stinging from the pounding their infantry’s taking, the two others disobey orders and conduct random strikes, putting their mission in jeopardy. When they get back to base, Viktoriya has to intervene to keep Tanya from literally skewering the two. The junior aviation mage thinks Tanya does them a favor by sending them to the rear; it’s only in the last seconds of the episode that we find out Tanya’s decision was anything but kind.
The series is based on a light novel called The Military Chronicles of a Little Girl. I’ve avoided reading anything about it (including the Wikipedia article I just linked to) because I want to see the series as a standalone entity. And so far, I’m impressed. The pacing kept my interest, and I really enjoyed the aerial combat scenes, especially after Tanya “powered up.” The enemy, of course, doesn’t take her seriously, given her stature. As you might have guessed, that was a huge mistake.
All this positivity aside, I have to confess there’s something keeping me from whole-heartedly endorsing this show. I’m uneasy with the continued fascination with early 20th century Germany as the basis for world-building. Granted, in Izetta, Germania was clearly the enemy, but any fixation should be view with suspicion, shouldn’t it? Here, they’re even the protagonists. Maybe I’m hypersensitive, given the current political conditions within the United States and around the world. Maybe it’s completely coincidence that the horrors of the early to mid 20th century are being viewed more sympathetically just as the voices that seem to echo those same monstrous ideas are gaining strength. Maybe I’m imagining things.
That being said, I’m not sure that I can call Tanya evil for wanting to use her sword to make her point with the two mages who disobeyed orders. Those two put the mission and the lives of their fellow mages in danger. That’s not cool. Did they deserve what eventually happens to them? For me, that’s a less clear question. But she was absolutely justified in being angry with them.
Even how convincingly Tanya defeated her enemies isn’t something I would call evil. She engaged an enemy and even tried to negotiate with them. When they less than politely declined, she cut them down. That’s what war is.
Still, it’s hard to get past the story’s context and its implications for today’s world…