Sunday, 7 May 2017

Streaming: Spring 2017 anime first impressions

What on earth happened to anime streaming this season? Right as we had finally settled into a wonderful era of Crunchyroll getting UK simulcast rights for almost everything on offer, Amazon Prime and Netflix have both stepped up their plans to grab exclusive licenses with bizarre global strategies; in Amazon's case, they've started licensing some titles for the US only which has left other English-speaking regions in the dust. It's as though we've gone back in time several years! The situation is worsened by UK licensor Manga Entertainment continuing to sit on its own licenses instead of putting them on some kind of simulcasting service. Their decisionmakers don't like Crunchyroll or dub-only outlet Funimation Now, but in the absence of any viable alternative Manga Entertainment continue to license shows and provoke the pirates by squatting on the digital rights for the UK. And so I don't buy from Manga.

I'm desperately hoping that this mess is just a temporarily blip on the path to progress, though it's not exactly unusual for the anime industry to shoot itself in the foot and prevent those who want to from watching and supporting their favourite titles. Global streaming is always such a mess.


All of my ongoing shows have finished other than Nobunaga No Shinobi, which has a second season continuing straight on from the previous one. So will anything new be joining it in my weekly viewing schedule? Let's see.

100% Pascal-sensei (100% Teacher Pascal)
A cheap-looking comedy show aimed at a younger audience, where a strange new teacher arrives in a regular Japanese classroom and unleashes endless chaos in the vein of Gintama or Assassination Classroom (Ansatsu Kyoushitsu). This strange teacher looks like a penguin wearing a yellow dog (?) costume, can't write his own name and doesn't seem interested in following any kind of coherent lesson plan. Instead, he argues with his own students and takes them on oddly self-indulgent adventures. It might be funny if you're a kid; for me every joke fell flat. The ending sequence is a fun dance sequence featuring a cheerful Indian man yelling phrases nonsensically over the singing, which is more than a little questionable in context - it's clear that he's standing in for the 'weird' teacher, and there are far better ways to celebrate India's rich culture and the efforts of the immigrant community in Japan than by lowering it to the same level of humour as this terribly mediocre pantomime of a series.

Probably not the next classic for today's younger viewers

Alice & Zouroku
A mysterious blonde girl with a passion for fancy clothing is on the run from a powerful underground laboratory, and to aid her escape she teams up with a surly old man. He's a kindly florist, but he's used to dealing with all kinds of clients from regular people to members of the yakuza, and his grounded attitude helps the runaway evade her captives well enough that she becomes attached to him very quickly. The first episode felt like a real slog, partly because it was a double-length episode but mostly because the pacing was strangely lethargic. There was no shortage of action - car chases, battles between little girls with superpowers and a little everyday violence - but for some reason there was no sense of urgency. The music was mellow and the animation didn't feel very kinetic.

An odd one. Not unwatchable, yet at the same time not a show I'm going to hurry to return to.

At least she's not a schoolgirl, I guess

Berserk (season 2)
The second season of the new CG-animated Berserk anime is here, and I'm feeling a lot less disappointed about its visual shortcomings this time around. The CG still looks horrible, but the plot has come together after the confusion of catching up without reading the manga. At the time of writing I'm two episodes in and they have already provided plenty of horror, anguish, tension, background story and inappropriate sexual themes, along with the return of a fan favourite character whose prior disappearance still has more than a few questions attached to it.

The more cutesy shows there are about girls falling over and blushing, the more I need something like Berserk to add some balance to the world. Thank goodness.

Serpico is still upstaging everyone else in the show

Boku No Hero Academia (My Hero Academia season 2)
The series has moved to Crunchyroll this time around which means I no longer have to wade through the Funimation Now interface to watch it! Boku No Hero Academia launched straight back into a ridiculous new storyline for its new season, this time focusing on a superpowered athletics event rather than a battle between good and evil. It's a good way to reintroduce the cast and let the wounds from the previous series' climax heal, and I'm excited to see where the story goes from here. There's really not much more to say until the plot gets going; the series isn't out to bring much new to its genre but it's doing what it's trying to do as well as it can, and sometimes that's enough.

This grumpy new guy seems interesting

Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
I was planning on skipping Boruto as it's technically a sequel to a show I don't follow, until some friends visited and wanted to check an episode out. I watched most of the first Naruto series then jumped ship before Shippuuden after realising it wasn't ever going to rock my world, so as a non-fan it's an interesting opening story. Boruto deliberately retraces some of the highlights of the earliest Naruto stories but from a different perspective, as Naruto's perky son (the titular Boruto himself) gears up for his first day at the same ninja academy which taught his parents. Some things have changed (technology has - very slightly - advanced since the previous generation of ninja) while other things remain very much as they were before. To the surprise of nobody, Naruto hasn't ended up as the most fantastic parent and his son resents his constant absence in his life. He also looks down on ninjutsu, despite demonstrating easy mastery of techniques far beyond what Naruto was capable of at this point in the previous series. The first episode is a self-contained adventure which introduces the lead and setting without explaining any of the many, many references scattered throughout the story for existing fans to appreciate. No doubt they will all come into play later on in the story.

I won't be following Boruto any further, but I did grin when my recovering Naruto-addict friend confessed that he was sorely tempted to continue straight into episode two to find out what happened. Those pining for some classic Naruto action should feel right at home with its successor.

Every bit as likeable as his dad (or not)

Clockwork Planet
In spite of the beautiful key artwork I had a feeling that Clockwork Planet wasn't going to end up on my viewing list and its first episode did a good job of highlighting the reasons why. The setting is unusual; after the world was destroyed, a mysterious genius somehow rebuilt the planet - and many of the things on it - using clockwork. While the steampunk aesthetic has never really grabbed me, I'll give the show credit for trying something different. Our hero, Naoto, is a strange little boy who wants to become some kind of clockwork engineer, except that he has no real skill for repairing his collection of mechanical clocks. Or so he thought, until one day a mysterious clockwork-powered girl crashes through his roof. Naoto manages to repair her by picking up on the unpleasant sound of one of her internal workings being misaligned, and his servile new friend, identifying herself as RyuZU, bonds with him almost immediately. There were many shades of Chobits in the early parts of the episode.

However, thereafter followed a fair number of 'sexy' moments which didn't really work - the tiny, androgynous lead has his fingers sucked in a scene which is deliberately designed to titillate the viewer, before (nearly) being taken to a love hotel by RyuZU, and then later he ends up on her lap for a rest. The problem is that there's no real lead-up or atmosphere before these sudden escalations and it all feels chaotically thrown together. And since it's the kind of show that it is, the viewer knows in the back of their mind that nothing will ever happen in that department anyway. There's a tiny young girl running around trying to follow RyuZU as well and various conspiracies and mysteries to unravel - I'm going to drop out here, because this is just going to end up as a regular fan service-heavy harem series with an action theme, and I don't have a good track record with those.

Why do people always put their robots in sexy dresses?

Eromanga-sensei
I liked OreImo (Ore No Imouto Ga Konna Ni Kawaii Wake Ga Nai). At least, I liked the first half of it. By the end of the second season I was desperate for it to finish and hated almost every character in the show, so I approached the creator's current series Eromanga-sensei with a fair amount of caution. Masamune is a guy who has acquired a shut-in stepsister he hasn't ever seen since she came to live with him a year ago and locked herself away in her bedroom. I'm a little hazy on the rest of the details; I believe that the reason they're living together in the first place is that each sibling lost a parent, then their two remaining parents married and merged the families, and then they, too, passed away all within the space of a year. Their school-aged children are coping remarkably well under the circumstances. Masamune has become a published writer of fantasy light novels, while Sagiri secretly draws erotic illustrations (based on her own poses!) and posts them online - in fact, they've both been so successful in their respective fields that Sagiri has been hired to draw the artwork for Masamune's books, with neither aware of the true identities which lie behind their pen names until partway through the first episode! Masamune is shocked when he finally learns that the illustrator who has been drawing all of his sexy female fighters is none other than his adorable little sister, and this revelation paves the way for the two of them to finally start bonding as siblings and professionals. Or does it? I'm never going to find out because the last thing I need from this writer is more awkward blushing little sisters being looked after by their goody-goody older brothers. It's well made, for what it is.

How had they never crossed paths, living together all year?

Frame Arms Girl
This season's sole exclusive on The Anime Network, again making my question why they persist with this strategy - it's simply not logical to pay a full subscription for one show! The first episode was free though which is something more services should offer. I checked it out.

Frame Arms Girl is a glorified full-length advertisement for a range of posable models released by Kotobukiya in Japan. It's probably the most blatant case of product placement I've seen to date; the happy-go-lucky heroine receives an unexpected delivery by drone one day and opens the box to find a scantily-clad figurine inside. The model's name is Gourai and she instructs the lead to build her armoured equipment using techniques familiar to plastic model collectors across the globe, before launching into combat with two other similar girls - who have also arrived out of the blue via mail order boxes. The heroine's cheerful acceptance of all of this nonsense is ridiculous, but it pales in comparison with the spectacle of having a trio of tiny, strangely sexy models strutting around with guns, flashing their panties at the screen whenever the camera angles permit it (which is often). The animation is weird and floaty due to copious use of CG techniques and the plot is non-existent, so really the only people who are likely to fully appreciate this show are those who love panties or those who love collectable plastic bishoujo models.

Finding a scene without a panty shot was a wasted effort

Fukumenkei Noise (Anonymous Noise)
Anime Limited managed to grab the UK rights for one of Amazon's US-only exclusives and handed them over to Crunchyroll for simulcasting, so I'm very grateful to have the opportunity to even get to see Fukumenkei Noise when all of the other corporate entities are desperately preventing anyone from lawfully watching anime in this country.

The female audience isn't getting much attention this season so Fukumenkei Noise is here to try to offer some balance. Adapted from a shoujo manga, it tells the story of a withdrawn schoolgirl, Nino, who loves to sing and desperately hopes to be able to reach out to two boys she used to know by the power of her voice. As it turns out, both of these boys attend her new high school and one of them, Yuzu, recognises Nino after she starts loudly singing along during one of his music club's stage performances. When the band's regular vocalist disappears in the melodrama which follows this chance reunion, Nino takes to the stage in her place and lets loose with a bone-chilling rendition of a song Yuzu wrote. Hayami Saori's incredible vocal performance takes the fairly ordinary - and perhaps excessively dramatic - second half of the episode to a completely different level; I was not expecting Nino to be capable of this kind of complexity after the grating 'la la la' singing from earlier on. The jury is still out on the writing quality (why didn't anyone care what happened to the original vocalist?) but there's definitely potential in this music-themed high school drama series.

I might drop the show but I'm definitely buying the song...

Hinako Note
Unlike the butt-kicking Hinako in Kenka Banchou Otome, the one in Hinako Note is a dithery, delicate young girl who has travelled to Tokyo in the hope of conquering the chronic shyness which has held her back whenever she tries to interact with people back home in the countryside. She's even pushing herself right to the limit and joining the drama club at her new school! Fortunately, upon arriving at her new accommodation she's befriended by a bunch of supportive new friends, each of whom have their own eccentricities. It's like a less intelligent version of Princess Jellyfish (Kuragehime) with more blushing and squealing. If you like cute girls, this is the show of the season. It gave me cavities.

Helpless girls are not my favourite anime trope

Kenka Banchou Otome: Girl Beats Boys
The goofy anime adaptation of a goofy otome game and manga based on a completely unromantic series of goofy action brawler games, Kenka Banchou Otome knows it doesn't have to waste any time being sensible. The heroine has joined a rough new all-boys school in disguise as her twin brother(?), who seems to have quite a reputation amongst the local thugs which make up the entire student body. Right from the start we're treated to the sight of an endless parade of fist fights in the background as Hinako tries to acclimatise to her new environment - and it seems she's no slouch when it comes to combat, either. There's plenty of potential for wacky comedy and inappropriate romantic heartthrobs, so why does the series only have 8-minute episodes? I feel robbed!

The game is on my shelf waiting to be played already...

Love Kome: We Love Rice
A trashy short series about boys who are actually anthropomorphised varieties of rice. The humour is as forced as the pun in the title ('kome' is both the word for rice and an abbreviation of 'comedy') and the artwork is all over the place. As inherently crazy as a series about rice boys is, by now we've had countries, swords, battleships, hardware and more as the gijinka craze shows no sign of slowing down. The genre's shock value has long been exhausted, and I'm not all that interested in obscure strains of rice in the first place.

He looks as though he belongs in a trading card anime

Makeruna!! Aku No Gundan!
A less charming alternative to the sublime (and sorely missed) Keroro Gunsou, Makeruna!! Aku No Gundan! is the story of a bunch of invading aliens who reach Earth and realise very quickly that conquering another planet can be harder than it looks. It's a short series and very cartoony, the kind of fare that's perfect filler on Crunchyroll for those spare moments when you just want to watch something short, silly and colourful.

Not the most photogenic character of the season

Oushitsu Kyoushi Haine (The Royal Tutor)
An interesting series plainly courting a female audience, featuring a mysterious new teacher who comes to the royal palace in order to tutor its four uncontrollable princes. Actually it sounds a lot like Rokudenashi Majutsu Koushi To Akashic Records from that description, except, well, it doesn't suck. None of the princes initially wants to learn and Haine has his work cut out convincing them he's up to the job; contrary to appearances, the diminutive educator speaks and acts like an even-mannered adult around all of the lanky, handsome blonde teenagers he's been tasked with training. The humour is quirky, poking fun at social situations and blending the gags with a vein of genuine understanding which elevates the show above other comedies about groups of sheltered royalty behaving badly.

An actual grown up, not a precocious kid for once

PriPri Chi-chan!!
The better of the two childish 12-minute anime titles this season (the other being 100% Pascal-sensei), PriPri Chi-chan!! follows the adventures of a greedy yellow blob-creature which tunnels up to the surface from its underground home in order to eat cakes. This mission accomplished, 'Chi-chan' finds itself too plump to return the way it came and ends up getting stuck in modern Japan. Fortunately, a sweet-natured schoolgirl rescues the hapless glutton and takes it home with her, setting things up for a fun comedy show aimed at a younger audience.

The best thing about this show is the adorable dance sequence during the ending credits. Chi-chan is far too annoying as a character for me to keep watching the series, but if I was a lot younger I'd definitely love every minute of this silly parade of cuteness.

Every single frame is screenshot-worthy

Renai Boukun (Love Tyrant)
Renai Boukun is almost good. With inspiration from Death Note and any number of school romantic comedies, it's the story of an average guy who ends up in a weird love polygon thanks to a meddling cupid and her magical matchmaking book. The heroine, Guri, is cute as a button in her decidedly non-cupid-like costume, and there are clearly some good ideas behind the many sight gags and plot twists that greet the hapless hero as he tries to navigate the sudden changes in his love life.

However, for me the execution of all of these ideas fell completely flat. The punchlines can be seen coming from miles away and Guri is the only character with any depth at all, which is not saying much when her only unique traits are her interest in BL and lack of respect for social niceties. I'm not sure how much of this is a problem with the original material or something to do with the adaptation, which feels uninspired all around.

Average show, adorable lead

Rokudenashi Majutsu Koushi To Akashic Records (Akashic Records Of Bastard Magic Instructor)
What a pile of mediocrity. Yet another 'magical academy' title about prissy schoolgirls meeting a guy who is nothing like anyone they have encountered before. In this case, he's their substitute teacher and despite a reasonably interesting introduction scene which made him appear to have an actual personality, it swiftly transpires that he's a worthless waste of space who keeps winding the students up with his lack of effort. Of course, there's going to be more to him than that; there are hints that he has some kind of secret and links to an influential mage who arranged the teaching job for him in the first place. What follows are the usual tropes of the genre, like the teacher walking in on all of the female students changing and getting beaten up (hilarious!) and being challenged to a duel by the stroppy female lead (my sides were splitting!). You can almost set your watch by all of the standard events which have to happen in the first episode of every show of this type. I don't understand why the girls' school uniforms are so infeasibly sexualised, either. It's completely distracting. The show is one for light novel fans who cannot get enough of seeing the same scenarios played out over and over again. It's not for me.

Of course, the boys just wear boring uniforms

Room Mate
I panned OneRoom, the questionable show where the viewer is addressed as though they're actually inside the anime leering at its cast of young girls at all times, and now it's back with a new series aimed at female viewers. The concept this time is that you're a girl who is coming to live with three young men (one of whom appears to be a massive exhibitionist) as their accommodation manager, or indeed their room mate. It's probably the trashiest show of the season, mostly due to its short four-minute episodes giving absolutely no build up before the clothes start coming off. I'll pass. I like more plot with my pandering.

Two minutes into the show

Sakura Quest
It's Shirobako meets Locodol, and while I wasn't sure I wanted to watch something so similar so soon, Sakura Quest has a great deal of heart. I'll give it a try. The story begins with our heroine, Yoshino, struggling to find employment and afraid that she might have to leave the big city to go back home to her family. However, she ends up accepting a strange job promoting an obscure countryside town due to a mix-up, and it's in this town where she meets a bunch of eccentric locals who are desperate to do anything they can to put their beloved region back on the map. From the description I can see that Yoshino is going to find a few allies to help her (only a couple of the other girls have been introduced so far), creating yet another of these formulaic - yet sweet - stories about groups of young women working together and finding their places in the world. I do like how P.A.Works include a variety of characters in these shows; the older generation are portrayed just as sympathetically as the more photogenic female leads. Anyone who has ever observed working life in Japan will instantly warm to the gentle observational humour which shines through in the various character interactions; it's a very genuine, earnest style of storytelling which soothes the heart.

Not the brightest lead of the season, but very relatable

Seikaisuru Kado (KADO: The Right Answer)
Yet another series marred by its reliance on dodgy CG animation, Seikaisuru Kado at least blends it with a more traditional aesthetic wherever possible. The reasons for the CG are the special effects, which are abundant - it's a story about a gigantic alien cube suddenly appearing at Haneda Airport, so the exotic technologies need to look as unusual as possible by swirling and glowing in patterns which wouldn't be practical to animate any other way. It's just a shame that this carries over to the character artwork too during those scenes, as the designs are reasonably nice otherwise.

The plot is still a mystery to me, but we're introduced to a maverick government negotiator early on and when he's engulfed by the cube it becomes clear that the overarching storyline is going to involve first contact between the cube's attractive white-haired owner(?) and a bunch of Japanese politicians. It sounds boring, and I suppose it is, but for some reason this ugly-looking, strangely-written show is addictive in its own way. It's not very grown up in its execution, yet at the same time it dispenses with a lot of the usual anime silliness and tries to take its subject matter seriously. I'll check out a few more episodes.

Hyperactive Science Lady is a bit grating

Sekai No Yamizukan (The World Yamizukan)
A barely-animated collection of horror-themed shorts in the same vein as Yamishibai, except this time the inspiration is classic sci-fi horror of a type that was popular several decades ago in the west. It's an interesting idea, if not something that's to my personal taste. I wonder whether it will find its audience tucked away on Crunchyroll, though?

The stills are nicely drawn and stylised

Sin: Nanatsu No Taizai (Seven Mortal Sins)
A very pretty-looking fan service show about a bunch of demons with implausibly voluptuous figures vying to hold the ranks of the 'seven deadly sins' (sorry, 'mortal' sins according to the official English title). Not to be confused with the similarly-titled action adventure series based on a shounen manga, Sin: Nanatsu No Taizai follows the fall of the proud angel Lucifer, who ends up in hell at the start of the first episode. She quickly attracts a very amorous new friend and the pair of them pick a fight with Wrath and Vanity in turn, with every fight seeming to involve someone losing their clothes in some improbable way. Or at least I think that's what happens - the censorship in this broadcast version is downright obnoxious! Huge magical circles appear to cover any trace of bottoms or breasts whenever they escape the confines of their clothing, which happens quite often, meaning that it's often hard to tell what's going on until the action cuts to a close-up of someone's face. This renders the series almost unwatchable in its current form. It's a shame; Sin promises to be a lushly-animated feast of demonic fan service and all of the women are confident with strong personalities, which I strongly prefer over the simpering childlike characters which are so popular in fantasy romance stories. One for a future Blu-ray revisit, perhaps.

C'mon Crunchyroll, get a less censored version!

Shingeki No Kyojin (Attack On Titan season 2)
It's been a while since the first season of Shingeki No Kyojin aired and entranced a whole generation of newer fans, and now it's finally back with the next instalment of the increasingly complicated story! I watched the first adaptation fresh and enjoyed it - even the parts with ropey animation - but because it's been so long since it aired I picked up the manga on Crunchyroll's service in the interim. This means that the second season is now treading through familiar territory without the same power to shock that it had in the past, so I'm curious to see whether it will be as popular with the wider audience the second time around. The good news is that the current arc is pretty exciting, so as long as the animation is handled well we should be in for some fun twists and turns. So far, the first episode has held up well with a brutal climax; even knowing what was coming didn't make it any easier to watch.

Lots of screen time for my favourite Scouts this season, yay!

SukaSuka: Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasuka? Isogashii Desuka? Sukutte Moratte Ii Desuka? (WorldEnd: What Do You Do At The End Of The World? Are You Busy? Will You Save Us?)
What a stupid title. I was all geared up to make fun of this fantasy light novel adaptation because it seemed impossible to imagine that it was actually going to be worth watching from the moe-looking artwork... and then it turned out to be good. Well. Colour me surprised. I'm not entirely sure what's going on yet, but our hero is apparently the last surviving human in a fantasy world populated by beastmen of all different types. He meets a mysterious blue-haired girl then takes a job guarding some mysterious weapons, only to find that these weapons resemble children. Humanoid children. And the strange girl from earlier is one of them. There are a lot of scenes with foreshadowing (as well as flashbacks to a time before humanity's near-extinction where the hero seems to have been a father or carer) and all of these scenes raise far more questions than they answer at the moment. I may well have to keep watching to find out what's really going on. Even though there's just one surly guy and a bunch of cute girls, the children are portrayed charmingly and nobody is annoying. Nobody walks in on anyone else changing, and nobody beats anyone else up for no reason. Why can't all light novel shows be this intelligent?

Going to have to abbreviate the title in my sidebar though or it will stretch my blog layout.

The female troll who wants to eat the lead is awesome

The Silver Guardian (Gin No Guardian)
Another entry in the apparently limitless parade of action shows sourced from Chinese webcomics, The Silver Guardian is sadly as generic as it is possible to be. Our hero is a genius gamer who ends up being sucked inside a game world, where he fights endless armies of enemies alongside his mildly-irritating cat companion. Back in the real world, there's a perfect girl who seems fond of the lead, but the connection between them isn't fully fleshed out yet. I'm not sure whether it gets better later on; the first episode really didn't make me want to keep watching in spite of the animation (which is better than average for one of these webcomic adaptations). The whole thing feels uninspired, like the creators just smushed together a bunch of popular elements from light novel fantasy shows and dressed them up in a magical glowing scarf. Chinese culture is so rich and appealing - why are we just getting an endless stream of copycat anime from that part of the world instead of some truly unique projects?

I wish these Chinese adaptations were a bit more... Chinese

Tsugumomo
Ugh, within the first few minutes the male lead, Kazuya, accidentally groped his female classmate's breasts then accidentally stared at her underwear. A series with such generic-looking character designs really shouldn't start in such a generic way if it wants to stand out next to all of the shows with more defined identities.

If I wasn't writing an article I'd have stopped watching here
In any case, the dull-as-dishwater lead finds his life getting a little more interesting after he goes up onto the school roof to sulk - he's attacked by a wig and ends up falling off the roof, only to be saved by a gorgeous girl who is actually a manifestation of his mother's precious obi he carries around with him everywhere he goes. The girl fights off the hostile wig and ends up living with Kazuya, with all of the usual tropes such as him walking in on her in the shower and sleeping in his bed. The only vaguely interesting element is that the obi-girl has a very high-and-mighty personality, and even that's done better with Shinobu in the Monogatari series. Not a keeper.

Another cute girl trapped in a weak series

Tsukigakirei
I feel like such a jerk. Tsukigakirei's artwork is gorgeous, with highly detailed backgrounds, unique designs and pretty colours in abundance (aside from the outdoor scenes where they use CG-animated schoolchildren instead of stills or properly animated artwork, which looks terrible). The plot is a delicate coming-of-age tale which seems to feature three schoolboys and three schoolgirls, all of whom intermingle in touching ways as they start to experience their first tastes of love. Except it's really, really boring. The backgrounds were much more interesting than the blushing, stammering characters, whose tentative brushes with romance almost put me to sleep - the main drama in the first episode is that one of the girls needs to get contact details from one of the boys for a school club project, and she's too shy to ask him. At one point, the two of them independently visit a restaurant with their families and... the families talk to one another, causing huge amounts of embarrassment all around. That's what passes for excitement in Tsukigakirei, and unfortunately it's all rather underwhelming for me. The hardcore slice of life fans might find more to enjoy here.

Lovely style, with relatively little substance

Uchouten Kazoku 2 (The Eccentric Family season 2)
I loved the first series of Uchouten Kazoku! This was easily my most-awaited sequel even in this season packed with high profile sequels. Episode one threw me straight back into the whimsical, colourful, political world of Kyoto's modern-day tanuki population. The writing is witty, the animation is charming and the characters - both new and old - are interestingly complicated. The story is still following self-professed fool Yasaburou; this time, his mentor's arrogant son has appeared on the scene and it looks as though Yasaburou and his brothers will be dragged into another strange adventure just when things seemed to be getting back to 'normal' for them. I look forward to discovering what's happening next, because with a series like this I'll never be able to guess in advance.

Beautiful in a completely different way to Tsukigakirei

Warau Salesman NEW (The Laughing Salesman)
A throwback to an earlier era. The Laughing Salesman of the title is a creepy drifter who offers people irresistible solutions to their everyday problems - solutions which always come with some kind of catch. And of course, his victims never fail to go against his strange warnings, and invariably end up suffering as a result of their own greed while their tormentor chides them. It comes across as a more mean-spirited cousin to Jigoku Shoujo, and while I strongly prefer that show I'm going to give Warau Salesman a chance for a few more episodes. The music is great and the social commentary is just as relevant today even if the dated trappings make it appear otherwise at first. From a western perspective, it could be argued that the Salesman's main goal is to chastise those who try to put themselves before more traditional social harmony, which is a fascinating reversal of the message we're fed in media made in the US or Europe. In any case, cruel morality plays are a weakness of mine.

I also can't get enough of old fashioned manga art styles

--

I'm following a lot of sequels and spin-offs this season. There are also a few for shows I don't follow which I skipped for obvious reasons:

Saenai Heroine No Sodatekata ♭ (Saekano: How To Raise A Boring Girlfriend. Flat)
BONO BONO second season
Furusato Saisei Nippon No Mukashi Banashi (Folktales From Japan season 2)
Future Card Buddyfight X
Granblue Fantasy: The Animation
Kaitou Tenshi Twin Angel Break
Monster Strike The Anime: Season 2
Shingeki No Bahamut: Virgin Soul (Rage Of Bahamut: Virgin Soul)
Shounen Ashibe GO! GO! Goma-chan season 2
Starmyu season 2
The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls Theater
World Fool News Part II

Several are victims of their earlier seasons being unavailable in the UK when they first aired, but the rest are just not interesting to me. The sequel to Saekano has moved to Amazon Prime which will doubtless upset its fans.

Region locked English simulcast titles (unavailable here):

Atom: The Beginning
BLAME!
Busou Shoujo Machiavellianism (Armed Girl's Machiavellism)
Dungeon Ni Deai Wo Motomeru No Ha Machigatteiru Darou Ka: Sword Oratoria (Sword Oratoria: Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? On the Side)
ID-0
Kabukibu!
Natsume Yuujinchou Roku (Natsume's Book Of Friends season 6)
Re:Creators
Rin-ne season 3
Sakurada Reset (Sagrada Reset)
Zero Kara Hajimeru Mahou No Sho (Grimoire Of Zero)

I still haven't seen any Rin-ne despite my love of Takahashi Rumiko shows due to its dreadful global distribution, and the continued absence of Natsume Yuujinchou is frustrating. BLAME! and ID-0 are supposedly going to be available as delaycasts at some point after they air, but I'm not paying a full Netflix subscription just to find out the details so as far as I'm concerned they're unlicensed in the UK. The same goes for Re:Creators on Amazon Prime. The bulk of the shows in the list are victims of Amazon's new US-centric licensing model, though. Thanks, Amazon.

The second season of the ONA version of Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt is supposedly available somewhere, too, except I couldn't find it on the GundamInfo YouTube channel or Daisuki when I looked and their region locking is always scattershot. Nobody seems interested in promoting the series if it is, in fact, available somewhere and as the first season was only average I decided I had better things to do than hunt the sequel down. At least when shows are on Crunchyroll I can find them without going on a scavenger hunt first!

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I'm going to guess that my top three will look something like this when the end of the season rolls around:

1. Uchouten Kazoku
2. Shingeki No Kyojin
3. SukaSuka


Assuming there are no late entries from Amazon's region-locked haul, my spring 2017 streaming schedule looks like this:

Monday: Warau Salesman
Tuesday: Oushitsu Kyoushi Haine, SukaSuka
Wednesday: Kenka Banchou Otome, Sakura Quest
Thursday: Nothing!
Friday: Berserk, Nobunaga No Shinobi, Seikaisuru Kado
Saturday: Boku No Hero Academia, Shingeki No Kyojin
Sunday: Uchouten Kazoku

It's not too busy, and the break on Thursday should help me avoid getting too far behind. I have quite a lot of work to take care of once again this season, though, so it's possible I'll end up backlogged and having to drop a few of the borderline shows!

3 comments:

  1. Long time no see!

    And now I know why we didn't get Saekano and Rinne even in Central America, I was furious! Sadly, I had to view Saekano with other means... His story improved inmensely (probably is the double of better than the first season), it's giving a lot of I-didn't-see-this-coming moments, and until now it's my favorite show for this season. It's a shame Amazon and Netflix has gotten the license... If in UK you suffer, you don't imagine the situation in Latin America. It's a shame, since latins love anime a lot.

    I'm also seeing Alice & Zoroku, it's a "Gokukoku no Brynhildr" without adolescents, and in a more human way (I was too upset with Gokukoku's anime and the manga -a worse offender- ending). Zoroku is my favorite character until now, he probably will become the grandpa of the season XD XD Give it a try later.

    I'm also seeing Granblue Fantasy (I find the characters pleasant, and until now, though somewhat generic, I think it's a well-made one... Yeah, I now, it sounds weird) and Clockwork Planet (I love gears, and that catched my attention XD XD ), but I understand why you won't see it n_ñU

    I honestly didn't think I would see Eromanga Sensei and Love Tyrant, since I'm not a fan of those genres, but I find them actually more funny and interesting that I thought; and since I didn't see Oreimo, it won't affect me XD But well, at the end of the season I will tell you my opinion of these anime, if you want ;o)

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    1. I'm amazed you're still visiting, thank you!

      The situation with anime streaming has improved so rapidly in the UK that it's almost insane; until Amazon started ruining things by taking worldwide rights even though they don't offer the services worldwide (grr!) I thought we were getting an amazing deal here at last. Latin America has always been famous for its love of anime; even in the US and Europe we know how much people over there loved Saint Seiya (!) and I've heard Japanese people excitedly talking about how popular anime is south of the US. Why can't people make full access to anime easier around the world? It makes me angry when companies region lock the Japanese streams and try to block exports of Japanese discs too. People like you can already understand several languages so the only barrier is with licensing. It's so easy to fix!

      I don't trust Eromanga Sensei (lol), but tell me at the end of the season whether Love Tyrant remained funny and maybe I will try it again! I'll also keep an eye on Alice & Zoroku if I have enough time for another show. Zoroku was definitely the best character :D

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  2. Oh, I didn't know we had that fame! XD XD

    And sure! I will tell you about Love Tyrant later ;o)

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