The 2016 Holidays Are Gone – Must Be the Winter 2017 Anime Season! Preview Part II

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 II of what I’m watching this season:

Seiren

Crunchyroll; Saturdays at 1:00AM EST

Hikari Tsuenki has a real knack for teasing Shouichi Kamita. You’d almost think she liked him or something! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

According to MyAnimeList, this show follows Shouichi Kamita and “depicts his pure relationship with three different heroines. Each story is the unique and mutual memory between him and the heroine.” I’m glad I read that (I think), because not having been exposed to this series before, I thought the story would be about Hikari Tsuenki and her relationship to Kamita.

The story starts out with Kamita having turned in his career aspirations to his teacher. She was naturally concerned that he said he wanted to be a horned beetle (I’m not sure he took the assignment seriously!). Then she brightened and suggested that maybe he should become a manga artist, and the horned beetle could be the hero. He seemed a little concerned at the amount of energy and level of detail she provided.

For me, the question is, does the world need another coming of age romance? I mean, it’s like you can’t swing a stuffed cat* nowadays without hitting one! The more I watched the first episode, the more clear the answer became: yes, the world needs this. It feels honest, the characters and memorable, and it has a great sense of humor.

Hikari Tsuneki is not at all happy with Shouichi Kamita as he tries to interfere with her persuading Ikuo Nanasaki to let her join their study group. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

The first time we see Kamita talk to Tsuenki, she’s sitting on his desk and talking to her friends. He asks if he can sit down, and it becomes clear she knew it was his desk all along. She just likes to see him “at a loss.” After she gets up, she notices him staring at the desk, and she correctly realizes he was pondering the heat she left behind. It didn’t help that he blushed.

The show’s supporting characters are enjoyable. At one point, Kamita’s playing a game with his sister, Tomoe “Moe-nee” Kamita. She hates the rules for the board game they’re playing, so she says, “This must be one of those bullshit broken games.” Kamita’s friend Ikuo Nanasaki helps him study for finals, and for reasons Kamita doesn’t understand, Tsuenki insinuates herself into their study group. I have to say I’m not a big fan of clueless male leads, but Kamita is so innocent about it, that I bought into it.

But in terms of personality, Tsuenki stole the show. She’s upbeat, she’s intelligent, and she’s infinitely manipulative. If she were an evil character, I’d hate her. Since she just seems like someone who’s learning to get along in the world, I can live with it.

I’m going to give this show a chance.

* I know the phrase is “can’t swing a dead cat,” but I like cats, so I’ve substituted a stuffed version.

Interviews with Monster Girls

Crunchyroll; Saturdays at 12:30PM EST

The girls in “Interviews with Monster Girls” are very different from the girls in “Monster Musume,” and that’s okay! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

The last show I watched with “Monster Girls” in the title was “Everyday Life with Monster Girls” — a.k.a, Monster Musume. I used to be embarrassed to admit it, but I’ve embraced my tastes, and I now I can say with pride that I loved that series.

The monster girls in “Interviews with Monster Girls” are not like the girls in “Monster Musume.” But that’s not a bad thing. In this world, demi-humans like vampires, dullahan (headless horsemen), snow women, and succubi (female demons) are actually spontaneous genetic mutations of humans. The government helps take care of them, going so far as to hand out blood packs so vampire won’t have to resort to more “traditional” routes of feeding. Our hero, a teacher named Tetsuo Takahashi, is very interested in demi-humans, and he wants to write a college paper about them. But so far, he hasn’t been able to meet any.

Tetsuo Takahashi really wanted to meet demi-humans, but he wasn’t quite prepared to meet a dullahan — sans head. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

That changes almost immediately after the school term begins. On a night before the new school year, he’s walking home, and he sees a young woman dressed as a student standing outside the school’s gate in the middle of the night. When he asks if she’s okay, she bolts, since she has no idea who he is. On the first day of school, she tries to find a teacher to help with a medical emergency, and he’s the first one she finds. He learns her name’s Hikari Takanashi (no relation to Tetsuo). Later, he learns she’s a vampire. She takes him to her friend — or her friend’s body. Her friend is a dullahan, and Hikari was able to carry her head to the nurse’s office. The body, however, was too heavy for her. Tetsuo helps out by carrying the body to the office so it can be rejoined with the head. They get to talking, and she lets him know that the teen girls who are demi-humans don’t like the term. They prefer to just be called “demi.”

As Rebecca Silverman points out in her Anime News Network review of the first episode, a more accurate translation of the title “Interviews with Monster Girls” might be “Demi-Chan Wants to Talk.” So far, that alternate title seems perfect for this series. Tetsuo wants to learn more about demi-humans, and not in a creeper way. He’s genuinely interested in them. Hikari is happy to talk to someone like him who’s not only interested, but respectful. That makes the foundation of the show something that’s warm and inviting.

Kyouko Machi, a dullahan, uses her hands to nod or shake her head. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

But it goes beyond that. Later in the episode, we get to see Kyouko Machi, the dullahan whose body we met earlier, talking to her friends in class.  It’s an endearing scene. Her head rests on a pillow on her desk. Her body cradles her head between her two hands, so if she needs to shake her head or nod, her body moves her head. Her friends and nice to her, but when she mentions it’s dangerous for her to ride the bus because of how she’s built (i.e., detachable head), her friends get uneasy. After class, Hikari stops by to walk home with Machi, and Hikari comes out and says it must be rough because “you have to carry your head everywhere you go, don’t you?” Her friends are scandalized, but Machi is elated that someone understands her and talks about the things that are important. Best of all? One of the friends hesitantly walks up and joins the conversation.

I’m looking forward to the rest of this series. The world needs more understanding and celebration of what’s different. Heck, it even needs celebration of what’s the same! Understanding begets understanding, after all!

ACCA: 13 – Territory Inspection Dept.

Crunchyroll; Tuesdays at 11:00AM EST

Jean is constantly smoking cigarettes. Not only will they likely shorten his life; they also make it look like he’s flaunting his wealth. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Every once and a while, a show comes out of nowhere and makes me go, “Huh!” I had heard nothing about ACCA: 13 before it debuted, but after watching the first episode, I’m intrigued.

The show’s based in a kingdom named Dowa. An organization named ACCA oversees and audits activities in Dowa’s 13 states, including fire and police. The main character seems to be Jean Otus, a highly ranked officer in ACCA, who incessantly smokes cigarettes. That seems to be important because tobacco is a very expensive luxury, and it makes him seem like he’s showing off or flaunting his wealth.

The kingdom’s been peaceful for years, so there’s not a lot of work for ACCA to do. When Jean goes into the office, the biggest thing on his team’s agenda is what kind of snack they’re going to have at their 10:00AM break. So it wasn’t a surprise to him to learn from his manager that the kingdom had decided to disband ACCA. His team’s crushed. After all, who wouldn’t miss such an easy yet well-paying and prestigious job? But before everything gets shut down, he has to go out on one more audit.

The local branch’s management is upset and embarrassed when Jean’s audit uncovers irregularities. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Much to the chagrin of the local management, Jean finds evidence of bribery and other relatively minor breaches of public trust. He and the local management confront those under suspicion, and they confess. It wasn’t a big deal, and Jean expects to go back, pack his things, and close the office on a down note.

Upon arriving, he’s surprised to hear that the decision to close ACCA’s been reversed. He’s even more surprised when his workload increases dramatically. He’ll have to hustle if he wants to meet his objectives, so he leaves right away. But what is even more disconcerting is that when he arrives in the office to begin the audit, he finds that ACCA Director-General Mauve is also there to conduct her own audit.

The show looks like it’s setting up a lot of political intrigues. Something is about to threaten the kingdom’s peace, and it looks like Jean, despite wanting nothing more than to peacefully smoke his cigarettes, is going to be right in the middle of it. In a season that seems pretty heavy on humor and slice of life dramas, I think a political thriller will make a nice addition.

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

Crunchyroll; Wednesdays at 11:30AM EST

Kobayashi is a software developer. She’s one of my people! And she’s staring in a KyoAni anime series! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I really wish I could stop rewatching the first episode. I wish I’d stop laughing at its jokes. But alas! It’s not to be…

Kyoto Animation‘s effort this season is a comedy, and I think might have secretly analyzed my sense of humor to do it. Our heroine, Kobayashi, is a professional software developer. As in, she’s not in high school, she’s not in college, she’s not in an academy for military arts — no, she’s an adult doing adult things like trying to succeed in her career. That alone make the series remarkable! And she’s a software developer! How cool is that?

Just what everyone expects to see when they open their front door: a dragon turning into a maid with horns. What could be more normal? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Kobayashi likes her alcohol. After all, she’s an adult in a world very similar to ours. Who can blame her? One night, she wanders off a mountain trail and removes a sword from a dragon’s back. Since she was seriously drunk, she doesn’t remember the ensuing conversation with the dragon, so Kobayashi is surprised one day when said beast shows up at her door. And transforms into a maid. With a dragon tail. And horns.

And it’s just getting started.

Does Kobayashi panic? Nope! She actually goes through a process analyzing the possibilities, and she settles on an explanation: she’s still asleep, and she’s dreaming. Since it’s a dream, she invites the dragon maid (Tohru or Tooru, depending on the translation source) into her home. Apparently, while drunk, Kobayashi not only removed the sword, she invited Tohru to live at her place. And now Tohru wants to live with Kobayashi as her maid.

Kobayashi objects to Tohru using her saliva to do laundry. I’m kinda with Kobayashi on this one… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

The proposal is so absurd that it’s hilarious. It doesn’t stop there. Not surprisingly, Tohru doesn’t fully understand what it means to be a maid. When Kobayashi asks about her cleaning skills, Tohru incinerates everything in the apartment. She uses her magic to bring everything back, but I think Kobayashi lost years off her life.

Later, in one of my favorite parts, Kobayashi is trying to convince Tohru to stay home (instead of flying her to work). She asks, “You’re one of the stronger dragons, right, Tohru?”

“Strong enough to bring about Armageddon.”

“Don’t bring it about.”

The humor’s fast, the characters are a delight, and best of all, most of them are mature adults! People like I’d work with. Doing things that I might do. Worried about things I might be worried about, like poor requirements for software developers, or inadequate project oversight. The show doesn’t dwell on those things, but it establishes them as important components of Kobayashi’s professional life. That makes her having a dragon maid that much more humorous.

I hadn’t heard much about this show, but I have really high expectations for it after watching the first episode.

Are you looking forward to any of these shows? Are there any I didn’t touch on that you think deserve mention? Let me know in the comments!

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