Spring 2017 – Initial Impressions

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IT’S HEEEEEERE!!!

Man, this is a pretty stressful season as early as the first two weeks. And I say that because there are just so many shows, and yet at the same time not all of them are leaving that good of an impression. This was a pretty weak start to a season, and it’s been quite a while since I’ve ever experienced something like this. But maybe that’s because there are three or four more shows that are still coming up. Regardless, I feel like most of the shows have some serious work to do if they want to keep things interesting this season.

And to some extent, that actually makes things a little exciting. But if your’e the kinda person who wants to be sure about what they’re watching, I suggest holding out until mid-season, once the shows have more or less established themselves.

So yeah, let’s run down the mess of a season we have before us, from my favorite to my least! This is Spring 2017!

#1 – Tsuki ga Kirei

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Fundamentally, there’s a very strong sense of purpose in this production. I’ll admit that it doesn’t have the most amazing of premises, and for all intents and purposes it is perhaps the most mundane of them all this season. But the allure to this series lies in how naturally its story unfolds, and much of the shows ability to keep its viewers engaged is in the subtle, indirect cues that are nestled within the brilliant directorship of Seiji Kishi — which is surprising, given his strong suit has always been more of the sci-fi action/drama sort of sketch. Regardless, I’m not under the illusion that this isn’t a show for everyone. There’s no counterargument to how mundane and simple the whole point of the story is — but most of the time, great stories sell themselves. I personally think this will be a great story in spite of its humble facade, probably because I resonate strongly with the narrative on a more personal level. Regardless, as early as the first episode, this show has the makings to become something really special.

 

#2 – My Hero Academia

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The underdog show of the season is My Hero Academia — the prototypical shounen superhero story starring a nobody who works his way up to becoming the greatest hero of all time. I’ve said before that the superhero genre is prone to stagnation, but part of the charm of My Hero Academia comes from its strong core value of what heroism really means. By alluding the academic model of the mind to the academic model of the hero. The second season continues this trend by throwing Deku into what is essentially a tournament arc. It can be argued that this is pretty much a staple for most shounen battlers, but I have faith in MHA’s ability to extrapolate meaningful truths that are consistent with its internal code regarding heroism. My only worry is the pacing of the show, which given the show is gunning for a double-length cour, makes me wonder if sufficient ground will be covered throughout its run. Regardless, I’m more than happy to see this show finally continue. Consider me a happy camper.

 

#3 – Attack on Titan (Season 2)

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This show needs no introduction. And despite coming from a 4-year hiatus, the show starts off with no unnecessary recaps, throttling us into the blood-curdling, adrenaline-packed world that is Attack on Titan. The overall tone of the show remains consistent, marrying the weight of its characters trepidation with the horror of their deaths. Much of the show’s strength is in its consistency in maintaining the superiority of Titan’s, highlighting not just the physicality of their size and strength, but also the breadth and extent of their knowledge. In fact, I appreciate the show’s stubbornness to let its characters learn more about the Titans, only having piecemeal moments of discovery that simply raises more questions than answers. I don’t have the benefit of knowing what comes next, given I haven’t read the manga, but from a newbie-watcher’s perspective, this annoying sense of not knowing what’s going on is actually quite terrifying, and works for the overall feel of the show. As always, I’m simply not a fan of Araki’s brazen depiction of gore and violence for the sake of it. But I understand how the shock factor sells the show. But who am I kidding — this show needs no selling. This is a blockbuster right here — four-years in the making.

 

#4 – Re:CREATORS

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Hey, it’s another isekai show — that’s fresh. Well, except that things are flipped around; this time the fantasy world characters find themselves in the real world. But as inane as the premise might sound, there’s a very strong production value to this work, which is no surprise coming from Ei Aoki and the people over at TROYCA. The mech and character designs are great, the animation is fluid and engaging, and the battle sequences are just stellar. As far as establishing context goes, this show nails it. Now it’s a question of whether or not isekai still has more room to spare for yet another title vying for attention. I’ll be sure to sit around to see how this turns out.

 

#5 – KADO: The Right Answer

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I usually tell people to brace themselves if and when they plan on watching CG mannequins, but I won’t tell you to do so here. It’s pointless to dissuade someone from watching something just because it’s in CG. Because as far as KADO goes, it’s a legitimately solid show. It has the basic ingredients for a suspense/drama show, with events that flow naturally one after the other, keeping good pace and basically hauling you in for the ride. Though the overall premise is pretty out there (pun not intended), I’m quite confident from this premier episode alone that the characters and the situations they’ll find themselves in will leave me well entertained.

 

#6 – Alice and Zôroku

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This is a weird one, and yet for some reason, I really want this show to succeed. What can basically be summed up as a sci-fi meets slice-of-lifeAlice and Zôroku works insofar as the overall direction has been superb. I really appreciate the use of indirect cues to give us insight on Zôroku’s character and motivations. Also, the character designs are refreshing, and are somewhat reminiscent of Ume Aoki’s style (character design Hidamari SketchPuella Magi Madoka Magica). Still, what ruins this premier episode is the god awful CG cars that just pull me out of the action. Then there’s the excessive use of violence against children as a comedic interlude to diffuse the tension. The show will need to provide some more variety other than the slapstick or physical abuse. Also, it will need to work more on developing Sana as a character, since the sci-fi half of the show has yet to leave an impression on me. So far, this is pretty much an experiment in genres in and of itself. Where that takes us, we’ll have to see.

 

#7 – Sakura Quest

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To be honest, part of me is giving this show a chance because I have a soft spot for P.A. Works. They made some of my favorite shows, like Hanasaku Iroha and Shirobako. And true enough, many people believe Sakura Quest is the spiritual successor to these two great titles. Now that’s a tall order to follow up coming from the heels of the disaster that was Kuromukuro. Otherwise, the story is both charming yet ridiculous — and that’s actually something I can work with! So please, P.A. Works, don’t let me down.

 

#8 – Grandblue Fantasy

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I can’t help but ask myself, “why am I watching this, again?  I think it’s partly because I want to try watch more fantasy-oriented stuff — but ugh, this is as generic and mediocre as it gets. The Fantasy genre has seen better days, I’m sure, but A-1 Pictures effort to bring to life this particular franchise seems more like an attempt to milk that cash cow. Oh well, I don’t wanna judge too early on in the game, so we’ll see where this takes us.

 

#9 – Ero-manga Sensei

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Oreimo ver. 2.0. That pretty much sums up everything I need to say. But damn, why does this show have to be so darn gorgeous?

 

#10 – Sagrada Reset

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I can reset the world. I have to save before I can reset. But I can’t remember anything if I reset. So I don’t know if I have saved unless I reset and it doesn’t reset. So I save anyway and reset, only to forget. I’m a sad human being.

 

#11 – Clockwork Planet

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Hyper-powered robo-maid meets ultra-sensitive hearing boy. She sucks his finger and they sleep at a love hotel. I’m not joking. Seriously, I’m not.

 

To be honest, I was trying to be a bit more positive with most of the shows up there, but I’m actually really worried about whether or not the shows will stack up well this season. Of the shows left on my to-watch-list, there’s Fukumenkei NoiseShûmatsu Nani Shitemasuka? Isogashii desuka? Sukutte Moratte ii desuka? (god damn it Japan, enough with these long ass titles), and Natsume Yûjinchô Roku. There’s also these random Cinderella Girls ultra-short TV spots that I’m watching just for the heck of it.

So yeah, lots of shows to watch this season, but I’m dropping the last two on this list. Hopefully, I can bring out some editorials and continue the Lost in Translation series, as well. So happy watching this Spring season! Until next time, ciao!

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