Spring 2016 – season end ranking

Spring has finally drawn to a close, and man was it crazy. I burned myself out half-way through the season, and apparently so did the CR staff handling the newsletter. As a result, NONE of my articles were ever published this spring, leaving a bitter taste in an otherwise enjoyable season. But my “enjoyment” was only to the extent that the shows were pretty much there to fill a void. It certainly wasn’t as dismal as the winter season, which only had one or two titles which I could consider worthwhile. But at the same time, Spring 2016 wasn’t exactly what I would call stellar, either. Sure, I was quite delighted mid-way through to have a pretty good spread of titles, but as the season dragged on, things began to stagnate. In the end, majority of the shows were pretty ho-hum with one ending up in the “dropped” category on its final episode before proceeding on to a double-length cour (which I’ll get to in a bit). So after all is said and done, though nothing was really “bad”, nothing was all too memorable, either.

So just what happened this season? Let’s run down all the titles, season end ranking, from worst to best! Continue reading

Spring 2016 – Week 5 in Review

This wasn’t one of the strongest weeks for spring, which is quite surprising given the shows have actually been doing fairly well. In fact, this season has turned out to be one of the better seasons as of late. At the start, there weren’t even any signs that the season’s offerings would do as good as they are doing now — that and the fact that genre spread is quite diverse. It’s going to be interesting looking at how these shows will fare in the mid-season review, which is — wow, next week? Holy crap, time flies when you’re having too much fun.

And fun we shall have! Here’s this week’s week in review! (NB: I might not have mentioned it before, but I’m starting to order the shows in this list based on my overall impression for the week, meaning the best shows appear first, and the not so good shows round up the end. Anyway, enjoy!)

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Joker Game – Episode 5

Joker Game‘s inherent weakness in characterization becomes apparent in this particular episode, which returns its focus on a specific spy as its central figure in the narrative. The fact that this was about a spy’s worst nightmare — getting caught by the enemy — means it is a very weighty theme that often implies a certain amount of investment in the captured party. In the case of this show, however, that weight could not be felt no thanks to the anonymity of our spy-of-the-week. I can’t even remember his name, and the only thing that I was thinking about when he got caught was “okay, so he’s gonna find a way to escape.”

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Spring 2016 – Week 4 in Review

There was some misunderstanding over at Crunchyroll, hence my writeup on Asterisk War didn’t get published in time for the April 27 edition of the Crunchyroll Takeout. Oh well, no biggie. I just decided to edit it up a little and post it here. But the process of reviewing Asterisk War actually made me realize how well-constructed it was as a battle show, and so if you have yet to pick up the show and are looking for a reasonably competent battle anime to watch, then by all means watch this show.

Otherwise, the fourth week was pretty much the settling period for most shows. It’s that sort of tentative period before the mid-season where shows have gained a rather comfortable rhythm for themselves, not opting for anything too daring (or too risky either, for that matter). So just how did the shows fare? Read on!

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Joker Game – Episode 4

I hinted in my last review that Joker Game’s current style of self-contained vignettes could run the risk of becoming stale. That and the fact that each individual spy is obscure to begin with, owing to lukewarm characterization that does not guarantee any emotional investment. Thankfully, episode 4 showed the type of narrative flexibility the show is willing to show in order to push its spy stories forward. And indeed, these are the type of spy shows that anyone into the drama will definitely enjoy. In this particular episode, the spy is primarily out of the picture, as the story is told from the perspective of a “guest” detective for the purposes of this short story vignette.

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Spring 2016 – Week 3 in Review

I’m wondering if I should retime these week-in-reviews to mid Wednesday to accommodate the first half of shows, then a second week-in-review to handle the remainder. Because as it stands, there are just so many shows on my watchlist, that these week in reviews are getting really long. And that’s troublesome because there are times that I have quite a lot I want to say about certain shows, but I have to limit myself in the interest of not boring you to death.

And it didn’t help much that this week had lots of shows giving pretty good arguments to warrant further watching. It’s been a solid season of anime thus far, and majority of the shows that have been shaved off of my list were pretty easy to let go of. The remainder, not so.

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Any, enough of that. Let’s do this! Continue reading

Joker Game – Episode 3

Joker Game started off with the premise of pre-World War II Imperial Japanese spies as framed through the interactions of the D-Agency with a traditional Japanese soldier, Sakuma. Episode three, however, takes a departure from this formula and enters into specific character vignettes for each of the eight spies introduced. In a way, this was a good approach since the sheer number of spies present in the show (eight in total) would make for a messy task of balancing out character development. Focusing on individual spies means getting self-contained stories that capitalize on their own unique abilities. The only problem is that I can’t remember for the life of me who is who in this spy-filled show…

But it doesn’t really seem to matter if we remember their names or not. Each of the eight spies was introduced using a pseudonym in the first episode, anyway, and it doesn’t seem to be the point so much as making it clear that there are, in fact, eight of them. Plus, their character designs are pretty generic and unassuming — undoubtedly a characteristic of a spy — but stylized enough to make them distinguishable. I honestly can’t half-ass myself to remember all of their (fake) names, so I might as well just call them “spy-of-the-week” for the sake of simplicity.

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