Anime List

Titans, Heroes, Queens, and Swords: Spring 2017 Anime Preview Part I!

That period between seasons so often makes me anxious. Will I find anything I want to watch? Or more likely, how will I choose what not to watch (having a real life and all)? Not sure we’re going to get anything with the philosophical or theological depth of Saga of Tanya the Evil or the social commentary of Concrete Revolutio, but who knows? I might be surprised. Plus, this season has at least eight shows that I’m really looking forward to. Here’s the first four:

Attack on Titan (season 2)

Shown on Crunchyroll Saturdays 10:30am EDT

This season features a new beast titan. See the little silver thing in between its finger and thumb? That’s human-sized 3D maneuver gear for scale. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

If there’s a series that’s received more press this season, I don’t know what it is. The first season was a huge success in terms of its sheer adrenaline rush. The writers were masters at cliffhangers! And so far, the second season (we’re up to its second episode as I write this) is picking up right where the first left off.

Literally, in this case. Seriously: the first episode happens just hours after the ending of the first season.

There are three things that struck me about this season. First, we meet a gigantic beast titan that talks. Not only does it talk, it’s very articulate. It seems every bit as cruel as it is articulate, as at least one poor human discovers. Second, we learn a startling secret about the walls, and we learn the secret early enough that it gives this season an added depth of uncertainty. If something like that could have remained a secret from so many for so long, just what is the nature of the world in which our heroes find themselves?

Turns out that Sasha’s a good shot with the bow and arrow. Who knew? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

The third thing was the huge role that the potato-loving Sasha Blouse played in the second episode. She’s one of my favorite characters, in part because she comes from a community that reminds me of where I came from. I also like how she doesn’t have the over-the-top drive to kill Titans that characterizes Eren Yeager. She doesn’t have the superlative finely-honed combat capabilities of Mikasa Ackerman. Nor does she have Armin Arlert’s exemplary intellect. Because she’s average, when she acts out of courage, the result is more emotionally satisfying and dramatic. And boy, does she have to use her courage in I’m Home.

I have high hopes that Attack on Titan will feed my action anime addiction this season!

My Hero Academia (season 2)

Shown on Crunchyroll Saturdays 5:30am EDT

All Might’s determined for Midoriya to succeed him. But it’s not clear the boy will be ready in time. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Speaking of my action anime addiction, My Hero Academia gets a second season this year. This show takes place in a future world where 80% of humans have some kind of super hero ability called a Quirk. The main character, Izuku Midoriya, grew up all of life in awe of the heroes. He was devastated when he learned he was one of the 20% who didn’t have a Quirk. As we saw in the first season, the world’s most popular super hero, All Might, took an interest in Midoriya because of his courage. So he told Midoriya a secret, namely that in a recent battle, he was so badly injured that he can only maintain his All Might form for a few hours a day. By sharing genetic material with Midoriya, All Might passed on his power, All for One, to the boy. The trouble is, the power is so great that every time Midoriya tries to use it, he shatters his own bones. Obviously, it’s going to be an uphill battle to learn to control that power before All Might has to step down.

None of his classmates know the burden Midoriya’s carrying. Not even he’s sure how he’s going to fulfill his destiny — only that he’s going to fill it. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

That’s where Season 2 starts. Midoriya is just starting to understand how he might control the power when the school announces its annual competition. The world’s going to be watching, especially the super hero franchises, so everyone in the school wants to excel and look good.

The supporting cast is great. Katsuki Bakugou, Midoriya’s childhood friend and self-proclaimed rival, wastes no time using his arrogance to make the other classes hate 1-A, our hero’s class. The earnest Ochako Uraraka, possibly a love interest, is beginning to embrace the reasons she wants to be a super hero. Possibly my favorite character, Tsuyu Asui showed courage under fire at the end of the last season, and it looks like she’s staying the course this season.

Will Midoriya learn to control his power? Will he learn to control it before All Might’s injury overcomes him? What does it really mean to be a super hero — or a super hero whose power is All for One? I’m looking forward to finding out!

Alice & Zoroku (Zouroku?)

Shown on Crunchyroll Sundays 11:00am EDT

Sana tries to escape the company that’s experimenting on her, but she’s too weak, and she’s about to be recaptured. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

This show touches two themes that are near and dear to my heart: strong characters who happen to be older men, and the eventual defeat (I hope!) of evil corporations/governments/institutions subjecting people to unjust imprisonment and/or experimentation. The latter is one of the several reasons Shikabane Hime is in the Caw of Fame.

At the time of this writing, I’ve only seen one episode, but it hooked me. It begins with Sana Kashimura, a.k.a. the Red Queen, trying to escape from the K & C Pharmaceutical Corporation of Japan, who have been experimenting on her. Her captors have limited her calorie intake to keep her weak, but she presses on. Her powers can bend physics, but without energy, her powers are almost useless, so she’s almost recaptured before another woman with similar powers shows up. After giving Kashimura some quick-energy food, she holds off the enemy while Kashimura teleports to a nearby city.

She meets Zouroku Kashimura at a convenience store, and at the salesperson’s prompting, he asked if she needed help, but she disappears in a flash. He finds her in his car. That’s when his life gets considerably more interesting.

Zouroku beings teaching Sana the finer points of etiquette and social decorum. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I like Zouroku because he’s a strong, sensible male lead in a time when that kind of character’s in short supply. He doesn’t care at all about Sana’s powers; he doesn’t want to take advantage of them, either. Instead, he sees her as a little girl who needs discipline and help growing up. After they’re attacked by other girls trying to retrieve Sana, he doesn’t panic but instead lectures the other two girls about why it’s bad to put people in danger and destroy property. He tries to bring order to any chaotic situation.

I like Sana because she’s trying to free herself against apparently long odds. She has no idea how to live in the outside world, but she doesn’t let that deter her. She’s determined to escape, and I respect that determination.

As I watched the first episode, I had a sense that I wanted to keep watching it. Then we got to the ending, where Zouroku brings Sana to his place of work, and we find out he’s a florist. This strong, opinionated man spends his days making beautiful flower arrangements. How cool is that?

This will be one of two series I review this season.

Armed Girl’s Machiavellism

Shown on Strike! Wednesdays at 10:00AM (or so)

The Supreme Five Swords, including Rin Onigawara, protect the school against evil-doers. Capture from the Amazon Strike Channel.

Fudou Nomura is a new student at the Private Aichi Symbiosis Academy, which until recently had been an all girls’ school. He’s looking forward to peace and quiet — something he didn’t have in his last school — when he notices that all of the male students are dressed in drag. Kusuo Masukodera is one of those men, and he earnestly tries to warn Nomura about keeping his head down and conforming. Concerned but not yet alarmed, Nomura tries to enter his first class. But when he opens the door, he faced with Rin Onigawara’s sword and the security batons of her followers. Apparently, she’s known as one of the Supreme Five Swords, five women who are charged with keeping order, and one of the ways they’ve achieved that end is by making all of the men act like women. She warns him to keep in line.

So far, I’m thinking that there’s not much here that’s really compelling. Sure, a sword-totting school discipline squad might be considered interesting. Male students forced to cross-dress? I’m not sure what idea that’s trying to communicate, so I just set that aside for now. Introduction of Kirukiru Amou, known as Empress, who has a troubled past, apparently similar to Nomura’s? Okay, some intrigue there. But taken as a whole, it’s only mildly interesting. What convinced me to keep watching was the sword fight between Nomura and Onigawara.

Does Nomura use a sword to fight Onigawara’s blade? No, he uses steel-studded leather gloves! That’s kinda cool! Capture from the Amazon Strike Channel.

I won’t give away who won, but I’ll give away what interested me: he didn’t fight with a sword, or a knife, or any other weapon. He used steel-studded leather gloves. So while she was aiming attack after attack with her various sword techniques (and she has a lot of them!), he’d parry them with the backs of his hands and launch his own attacks in the form of punches. The result was dynamic and a lot of fun to watch. Good animation and voice acting rounded out the picture.

I’m hoping this’ll be a fun action series.

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