And it’s time for 2015’s very first First Impressions.
If Autumn 2014 didn’t have that many shows that tickled your fancy, then it seems anime world froze over this Winter 2015 – because it certainly has had that effect on us, what with an underwhelming eight shows that we are collectively covering, lol. It would appear that we are still recovering from the amazing season that was Summer 2014 (yes, it was that good that we are still raving about it), which really spoilt us koekara writers. That having been said, we still welcome the new anime season with open arms and appreciative hearts. Hence, in spite of the even bigger lull of a season that looks to be this Winter 2015 (catching up on backlogged posts, anyone?), we have gone through quite a number of shows so as to sift the good from the not so good. And so, here’s presenting our list of first impressions for Winter 2015.
As always, the disclaimer bit about this being our opinion… subjectivity… watch the shows for yourself… lalala~
akatsuki: I loved the first season because come on, it’s Uro-the-butcher AND Sawano Hiroyuki (incidentally I’m listening to his latest “Best of Vocal Works” album as I write). But that cliffhanger was sheer torture! I mean, we all know the main characters will somehow return in Aldnoah even though there have been animes that decidedly kill off main characters in the first episode… but I digress. What I really really wanted to know and I’m surely not alone here, is just how on earth/space Inaho and Princess were going to return. That’s important cos I really like Hanae Natsuki’s emotionless cooler than cucumber Inaho. The plot does move along nicely – pacing’s better this season, the politicking plot is soaked in Urobuchi’s signature writing/conceptualising and the OST is still as epic as ever. Plus this time around, Ono Kensho gets juicier lines going all out as twisted(?) conflicted(?) Princess-con Sir Slaine Troyard. If you’ve been holding off season one, now’s a good time to marathon it and get on board with season 2!
akatsuki: I’ve not read the original manga source material but for it to go for as long as it still is, it has to be good right? So far the anime has been fairly interesting. A group of students from the tail-end class of its year are told that they’ve got a new teacher. Nothing odd there, except that the government is telling these students to go all out in assassinating and killing this teacher. Otherwise he’d destroy the world. Now that’s sort of refreshing right? Usually, assassination and murder are serious themes even in anime but throw in an unknown creature (and all those tentacle jokes) who genuinely cares and teaches the class which has been all but given up on, things turn out to be parts funny and parts heartwarming. I’m not sure where the adaptation will end, I’m not even sure how the students can come to actually kill Koro-sensei seeing as how he’s about the only person who cares for them. Fukuyama Jun does brilliantly what sounds like a dream role for him as the sensei who’s whimsical, sly, sadistic and haughty but with heart so fans of his should watch this show just for him. Otherwise, there’s a full class of students so there’s surely a seiyuu for everyone :)
Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love!
akatsuki got through up until the first “transform” sequence in ep. 01 and just had to shut the laptop otherwise I’d shake my head off in utter WTF? That said, it’s refreshing to hear last season’s merman Umehara Yuichiro sound more otoko.
Komorebi: This show is like Sailor Moon meets Daily Lives of High School Boys. It’s THAT outlandish. But perhaps it’s due to my respect for shows that try to break the mould of generic tales and overdone, predictable plots that I’m able to respect the sheer satire this show puts on the whole mahou shoujo genre. It’s ridiculous all the way through and I like that the characters themselves seem to find their situation less than ideal, especially when it comes to their little frilly shorts once they’ve “transformed.” Another bonus for me, though, is that the MCs are pretty much all fresh blood, so a lot of new seiyuus are really getting their hands into voice acting, and there are already a number of voices that I wouldn’t mind listening to again. So, while it’s not your usual kind of show, if you can get past the insanity and see it as a satirical play on mahou shoujo anime, I think you’ll find a few funny and interesting bits to it. ^^;;
akatsuki: This is going to be one of the best anime of 2015. It’s thoughtfully executed with its writing woven intricately with each week’s game. The gamut of human emotions from love to hate are explored and that’s just within the first 4 episodes alone. This anime explores the question of just what does it mean to be a good person? To remain objective, the non-humans judge the humans but is it a fair judgment considering these bartenders don’t even feel human emotions? How will you as the viewer judge each situation with your own moral compass? Should the arbiters learn more about the complexities of human psyche (through Kurokami no Onna) and will that affect the way they feel about themselves? The thoughts and feels that go into making this show so human in a non-human setting is the depths to which I appreciate Death Parade. One of the better showings from 2013’s anime mirai turned out to prove that good, creative talent ought to be rewarded with a full series and at the end of the day, it’s the viewers who benefit from a lesson or two on what it means to be the kind of person you are, even if it’s “just” an anime ^^
kiseki: It’s a warm welcome to QuinDecim, where the dead partake in the most risky of gambles, with the fate of their souls on the line. The catch – the dead aren’t actually aware that they are dead, not in the beginning at least. And the clincher – the ones deciding the fate of these souls aren’t actually human. This is a deliciously dark series that delves deep into the depths of the human psyche, drawing out what often is the ugliest side of humans by tapping on the very basic of human emotions: fear. With its tremendous display of some of the most thought provoking episodes this Winter 2015 has to offer, what we get is week after week of very raw, very real emotion, brought to life oh so beautifully by the talented pool of seiyuus that make up the cast of this series.
Komorebi: A hauntingly beautiful show about the games we play for the fate of our souls after death, Death Parade is one of those shows that takes people by surprise every single episode. We may get a new set of characters every episode but their stories are deep and almost disturbingly relatable, and you think you know the fate of the characters at the end but you really don’t. Like many other shows that involve the voyeurism of human nature by distinctly non-human entities, the show is extremely blatant in stripping humans down to their raw emotions and revealing their dark, twisted and desperate attributes, and as viewers we can’t help but empathise, as well as find ourselves horrified by what we find. This is a thought-provoking and visually stunning show not for the faint hearted.
kiseki: Am in it for HiroC‘s irresistibly psychotic Izaya, OnoD‘s tyrannical yet somewhat tsun Shizuo, Junjun‘s playful & lighthearted Shinra and Sawashiro Miyuki‘s mysterious yet shy Celty. There’s also Hanazawa Kana, Toyonaga Toshiyuki, Miyano Mamoru, Nakamura Yuuichi, Kaji Yuuki, Kitamura Eri, Kobayashi Sanae, and Shimono Hiro, and that’s not the entire cast! And the fact that the story’s set in Ikebukuro is just the icing on this very yummy cake~ After this we get two more seasons, so I for one am going to savour it all! Loving the time skips, loving how every other
crazy character is somehow connected to some other kooky character, loving all the perfectly timed comedic moments, loving the music.
Komorebi: This show has been so long-awaited ever since the first season ended and I think a lot of people were beginning to lose hope that we were ever going to get a second season, much less three one right after the other! We’ve got the whole Ikebukuro gang back together, plus some new and unsurprisingly outlandish characters. Although it’s been a while, there’s still that edgy, urban jungle sort of vibe to the show, accompanied by a great soundtrack and an undercurrent of darkness and moral ambiguity all around, so the series definitely deserves all the anticipation and enthusiasm that it’s been getting! And have I mentioned the really cool new OP by Okamoto’s? Because if you haven’t listened to it, you really should. It’s just so…sexy~
Junketsu no Maria
akatsuki: From just reading the synopsis for Junketsu my first impression was that it was just another witch anime put out to pander the male otaku crowd.. I mean, this show has a succubus and incubus and the preview had one typical well endowed and very scantily clad female character. So I gave this show a go anyway because of the mid-week lull this Winter 2015 and my dearest Sakurai Takahiro along with Hanae Natsuki were supporting characters. Also among the cast are Ono Kensho and Ono Yuuki who are not unlike their outing in Kuroko so it’s sort of an in joke to watch these 2 in another show. Lo and behold, it turned out to be a really really pleasant surprise! There’s humour, old school magic and best of all, the themes of religion and politics set against the England vs France warring period. Witches were commonplace and of course the bane of the Church’s existence. So how does the war ensue with the interference of witches and the backing of the church and god (through shining bright bright angel Michael)? Most of all, it questions the validity of war, the necessity of an omnipotent force letting “nature” run its course and a witch who is willing to be branded heretic if it means saving innocent lives. At the heart of it all though, is whether Maria’s willing to forego her personal chastity and virginity for the sake of her compassionate ways towards the people of France? Or will she end up with Joseph who had actually attacked angel Michael for her?
akatsuki: I’m just so pleased to watch the manga be animated and voiced. The first season was decently adapted and as the plot progressed in the original material, demand was growing for the more interesting later part of the manga to be adapted. So this manga reader is one very happy one ^^ I’m really looking forward to Tomoe’s backstory, his growing mutual love affection with his master Nanami (Mimori Suzuko) and new rival/enemy Akuraou/Kirihito added to the complication that is beautiful kitsune Tomoe. Tachibana Shinnosuke is always going to be Sekaiichi‘s Yoshino to me but with each episode of Kamisama Hajimemashita I’m growing more and more fond of his manlier resonance and tone as loyal, sadistic but loving familiar Tomoe.
kiseki: Kamisama Hajimemashita is back with a second season and it looks like we might finally be getting a little insight into Mikage’s story. We have a lurrvely lineup of voices with Tachibana Shinnosuke as the devastatingly beautiful Tomoe (oh Tomoe, make my heart go kyun), Okamoto Nobuhiko as the other familiar (after watching Donten, I can’t help but note the resemblance between this character and Shirasu), Ishida Akira (kyu~n) as Mikage (who is still MIA) and Suwabe Junichi (another one of them kyun worthy seiyuus) as that mysterious dude we saw at the end of the last season. The story has progressed quite a fair bit so far, but Nanami and Tomoe’s relationship doesn’t seem to be going anywhere – what with her at the deity seminar and him being stuck at the shrine. That said, this is still a very enjoyable series, all bright, cheerful and adorable. As this season’s token don’t think just watch shows, it is perfect to wind down to.
akatsuki: I love how short 3 min shows can be so hilarious on the most basic of themes such as is done in Ketsuekigata-kun! 2. The first season was so funny I remember wishing for a season 2 just because, blood type analysis of personality and characteristics is just so tickling and tongue-in-cheek especially with the seiyuus voicing their respective blood types. With the girls on board season 2 is one of the shows I look forward to each week. 3 mins is so commitment free and yet rewards you with laughter!
kiseki: Lol, this show is just so lol-inducing in its own eccentric way, I can’t not watch it. Building up from the previous season (hmm.. maybe not so much building up seeing as there really isn’t any plot to this series whatsoever. Ah, how about expanding?), four female blood type characters join their male blood type counterparts. With (A, B, O and AB) x2, of course it’s going to be even more of a riot! If not for learning the quirks and stereotypes of the different blood groups, then watch it to listen to Fukuyama Jun & Yuuki Aoi (A-gata), Nakamura Yuuichi & Horie Yui (B-gata), Ishida Akira & Kobayashi Yuu (O-gata) and Kakihara Tetsuya & Nakahara Mai (AB-gata).
Komorebi: The first episode of this show actually took my numerous tries to try and get through. It just didn’t really grab me. The art itself is quite sweet, and very saccharine and pretty, so coupled with the main character’s sugary sweet voice (Satou Rina) it’s all very…cavity-inducing. While the food looks delicious – as most anime food tends to be – there are some seriously ridiculously erotic food-eating scenes, which just seem a little silly to me so…yeah, I’m probably going to give this one a pass…
Kuroko no Basket 3
Komorebi: It’s taken us SO LONG to get to the semi-finals and I think the end is finally in sight! Kuroko no Basket has always been a favourite in the sports anime realm because of its literally colourful characters and their hilarious (but also serious at the same time) magical basketball powers. It’s the same cheesy yet thrilling and exhilarating show as it’s always been and so that we’re finally down to the last few games and finally meeting the elusive captain of the GoM, Akashi, I think we’re in for a pretty fun ride! And if that doesn’t make you bite, then maybe images of adorable baby Tetsu in the ED will reel you in. ☆*:.｡. o(≧▽≦)o .｡.:*☆
Soukyuu no Fafner: Dead Aggressor – Exodus
akatsuki: I remember really really liking the first season in the Fafner franchise 10 years ago. Why though just absolutely escapes me. I can’t remember much if anything at all from the first season and with that haziness, started Exodus. That turned out to be a massive ‘HUH…’ exercise and honestly, now that we’re on episode 05 I’m still somewhat picking up the pieces and gathering the plot. But, if you’ve not seen Fafner 10 years ago don’t worry, the pieces are slowly but surely coming together with each passing episode and so far it’s promising to be as good as its predecessor. angela provides yet another impressionable OP and the OST here in Exodus, just goes to prove how important an OST is in invoking long forgotten memories – even though I can’t remember the details of season one, I sure as hell remember those few thematic tracks revived here in season 2. Oh and Kaji Yuuki, Okamoto Nobuhiko among others have joined the cast so that’s guaranteed ear candy, not forgetting main seiyuus Ishii Makoto and Kiyasu Kohei who do the honours of sounding like not a day has passed since a decade ago.
Tokyo Ghoul √A
akatsuki: I think because I’ve read the manga, I’m actually enjoying this second season which touts to be an alternate telling of the series of events after the centipede incident. The censorship’s always going to be there but I do think the visual effects of fight sequences have gotten lazier and choppy. I did just watch episode 05 in super HD though and version-up Kaneki’s fighting in all his new badassery makes me suspect the production studio has had to stretch its resources on “lesser” episodes while spending more time and budget on key episodes. Kaneki has way too few lines though but if that means there’s more of Yusa Kouji, Kugimiya Rie, Sakamoto Maaya and hopefully in future episodes Namikawa Daisuke, I’m happy to concede (Hanae Natsuki‘s doing such a fab job in Kimiuso anyway). It’s overall a more muted production (just the OP alone tells you how stealth things are gonna be this season) which really emanates the Japanese spirit of feeling a lot, in so little. That’s IMO anyway~
kiseki: Too messy. Needs more Yusa.
Komorebi: I ditto Kiseki; it’s somehow become too messy. The first season had this beautiful and detailed finesse, especially during fight sequences, which were so practised and lovely to watch, even with the censoring. What’s HAPPENED to that?? The blatant censorship is obvious and rushed, they’re trying to fit waaaay too much into each episode and so now all we’ve got is this cluttered mass of subplots for which there’s no obvious point. I am very disappointed. :( I’m aware that they’re changing a lot of things from the manga but this isn’t the way to do it. >_> *siiiigh* I do hope the later episodes are more wholesome and bring the show together more than the first few have.
The Verdict. We have put it to a vote and our three favourites are:
Death Parade ☆ デス・パレード
Durarara!!x2 Shou ☆ デュラララ!!x2 承
Kamisama Hajimemashita◎ ☆ 神様はじめました◎
Opening fortnight 万歳！We wish you happy watching~ *･゜ﾟ･*:.｡..｡.:*･’\(*^｡^)/‘･*:.｡. .｡.:*･゜ﾟ･*