Winter 2017 – Initial Impressions

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Okay, so it looks like I’m looking at nine shows for this season, with another two in-waiting, one continuing series from the previous season, and one odd-ball show that will pop up an episode or two whenever it feels like it. That’s a hefty number of shows to deal with, meaning I’m either going to have to trim them down a bit or, perhaps, find a different strategy when it comes to sharing my weekly thoughts.

That said, I’m planning on splitting up the thoughts to two separate entries throughout the week. That gives me a little more wiggle room to squeeze in extra thoughts (long posts, joy…) as well as allow me some leeway with regard to remembering what happened in the shows, themselves. Because to be honest, I sometimes have to backtrack to shows that aired earlier on in the week, making me feel like I might have lost some details in the process.

But before I get too engrossed in the details, let’s just enjoy what we have on out plate now, shall we? As with previous seasons, this list is arranged in descending order. Now do take note that the order here might not necessarily reflect the initial ratings I gave in previous posts, given things change over time, especially once I’ve ruminated over how each individual show actually appeals to me from a series-to-series perspective. I’m one of those people who believes that a 7.5 for one show might mean something else for another. That’s one of the reasons why I give pretty poor scores to shows I otherwise sound invested in, because my expectations for the said show are much higher.

And there I go again getting too caught up with the details. I might as well shut up for now and just CARRY ON WITH THE RUN DOWN LET’S DO THIS!–

#1 – Little Witch Academia

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Watch this show. I’m serious, just watch it. You might be a trigger fan or you basically like anything that holds a magic wand and spreads pixie dust and love — but the real selling point of this show is the sheer audacity of its production. It is, by far, the best example of a classic story given the justice of a brilliant production team. The show is imaginative, engaging, and energetic, brought to life by a slew of animation feats and visual flourishes that is complimented by an immersive soundtrack. This is Trigger when they aren’t trying to be overly loud in productions like Kill la Kill or needlessly emo like in Kiznaiver. This is Trigger at their best game. I’ll say it again: watch this show.

 

#2 – Shôwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjû: Sukeroku Futatabi Hen

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The simplicity of Rakugo Shinjû’s drama is met with the complexity of its own characters. There’s the immanent demise of a classical art that is met with the billowing rise of a con-man turned public performer. Classic meets modern; passion turned into tragedy — this show is high-teir story telling at its finest — a production that you won’t find anywhere else this season. If you haven’t watched the first cour of this show, by all means please do. This season’s continuation of the story is fresh as ever, and definitely one of this season’s highlights. Don’t miss it!

 

#3 – Demi-chan wa Kataritai

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There’s an innocence to its production that begs a more thorough analysis, making this show more than just a shallow slice-of-life that attempts to cash in on the prominent monster girl craze. Indeed, Demi-chan wa Kataritai speaks more towards our own efforts at understanding the minority, what it means to communicate earnestly with one another, and the means by which we can grow in understanding as a whole. It’s a fun little comedy show that can be meaningful if you want it to — a glimmer of hope this season if you’re looking for a fun show that can be more than just a transient giggle.

 

#4 – ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept.

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This may be bias on my part, but take note — if you’re the type of person into character dramas in a fully-actualized world that takes advantage of the peculiarities of its structural set pieces, then this is the show for you. Basically a show about auditors in a bureaucratic modernist union, the compositional style and focused character details make the show highly engaging with regard to building interest in each of its characters. Indirect framing and smart camera angles help build our understanding of each character’s psyche, heightening the viewing experience and increasing the overall polish of the show. This is a well-directed show that, as far as I can tell, is capable of producing a satisfying character drama. Hopefully, this will prove to be the case.

 

#5 – Scum’s Wish

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I really appreciate the boldness of this show’s production efforts to introduce a rather controversial topic in a very nuanced manner. Its representation of adolescent sexuality doesn’t come off as offensive, and the artistic merit of the entire production is heightened with excellent compositional values and an interesting use of Manga-styled panels as a visual cue. That said, the pilot episode falters by relying heavily on viewer investment where it doesn’t exist, making me feel like the events of the first episode alone could stand to be an entire series in its own right. Still, this is a highly polished show that has some potential to provide an interesting story, although I anticipate it to lay down the drama quite thick. But who knows, we’ll see.

 

#6 – Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

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Japanese comedy, in general, tends to be hit-or-miss between a wide range of Western viewers, and that means shows like Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid may very well teeter between those who get its choppy comedic cuts and those who don’t. I tend to be a bit flexible given I have a strong background in the cultural hinges of Japanese comedy, but that doesn’t mean that I found the antics of this show novel in anyway. But in all fairness, it does hint at a little substance beneath its veneer of randomness, allowing for some amount of emotional investment beyond the occasional Manzai trope or pervy eye catch. Like it or not, this is Kyoto Animation’s offering this month, and is something we’re going to have to live with.

 

#7 – Gabriel DropOut

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You might notice that this show actually had a lower initial score than the one after it, but that’s only because after thinking about it, I feel that Gabriel DropOut has a clearer grasp of its comedic intent than the other. And this is where fan service as a comedic device actually works in favor for the show — and Doga Koba did the device justice by allowing it to serve as a means for us to get to know each of the characters better. Be it a random panty shot or suggestive framing, each use of the device was for a clear purpose of characterization. But the characters themselves still felt a little tropey, owing to their cookie cutter archetypes that serve the purpose of highlighting the otherwise obvious comedic irony of this show: angels doing bad things and devils doing good things. Still, there’s a lot of inventiveness in its characters, and they actually do come off as endearing early on. However, this is watered down by comedic punts that feel both uninspired and predictable. The show has the potential to be fun, but it needs to distinguish itself first if it wants to make any reasonable headway in that regard.

 

#8 – Urara Meirochô

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And this brings us to the main issue I have with Urara Meirochô, which is that its use of fan service actually has a more sinister purpose in an otherwise harmless show about adolescent hopefuls wanting to become professional seers. And it doesn’t help much that the characters, themselves, actually look and act far younger than they are ostensibly made out to be, which only makes the fan service feel both predatory and simply “not right”. I only realized this in hindsight when I was trying to figure out why I kept feeling unsettled whenever the “show your belly when you’re apologizing” gag kept getting used — and this is clearly the reason why. It is difficult to engage in a slice-of-life show that actively exploits its cast in situations that they would otherwise not wish to be in simply for the sake of viewer pleasure. It’s a tough pickle to deal with given how this show is just so deceivingly cute, and it’s something I’m going to have to wrestle with for the weeks to come.

 

#9 – Tales of Zestiria the X (2nd Cour)

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It feels really odd placing this show down here, which brings me to my point regarding how I’m pretty hard on shows that have an existing tally on my scoreboard. This is EXACTLY why it’s a bad idea to cut a show in half due to production issues, alone. It sacrifices the continuity of the plot and makes events feel disjointed and inconsequential. I also had a beef with the abrupt questioning of Sorey’s philosophical motives with the revelation of a previous Shepherd. These sort of devices are far more revelatory and meaningful when they are experienced as a matter of catharsis, which was something Sorey actually went through in the previous cour. Not making that logical association and just running with the new philosophical hoo-haa meant for a shallow bit of mental acrobatics for an otherwise clueless Sorey. I feel like this show needs to tread its moral grounds more carefully given it has handicapped itself with a crippling two-cour run. It’s a shame, really, but the show still boasts a very polished production aesthetic. Still, I’m expecting much, much more from this show.

 

And there you have it! I left out 6HP because, well, it’s technically not a winter show. On top of these shows, I’ll be looking into GRANBLUE FANTASY and The Dragon Dentist, so look forward to those as well. So that’s that! It’s off to enjoy Winter 2017! Until next time — Ciao!

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2 thoughts on “Winter 2017 – Initial Impressions

  1. remyfool January 14, 2017 / 20:33

    Gotta agree with your assessment for Gabriel DropOut and Urara. I’m not really a fan of fanservice most of the time so Urara is giving me some real mixed feelings.

    Here’s to a better second week of Winter 2017!

    Liked by 1 person

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