Winter 2017 First Impressions Round-up

I need that shirt.

I expected a troubled start for the season because of work, and then my schedule got further complicated by my first attempts at C-41 processing which has taken up a lot of my spare time recently. In the meantime, the season has reached the point at which the shows have more or less proven themselves or died trying. My watchlist went through a lot of changes from the original partly due to my slightly increased watching habits in despite the frantic film processing. And also some figurine stuff.

You think this is a fucking game?

ACCA

Fabulous uniforms smoking and jazz music were about the only things I expected, so ACCA was a pleasant surprise. The plot focuses on a seemingly oblivious and laid back bureaucrat in the middle of high level diplomatic shenanigans. Like any good story that focuses on political scheming, ACCA depicts the machinations but leaves the motives and allegiances unclear. For example the fourth episode made it clear that Jean isn’t as blissfully ignorant and without political ambition as he seems, but the questions as to who he’s really working for and to what end are left hanging in the air. The background art occasionally delivers some really pleasing compositions which help setting the atmosphere. Here’s to hoping ACCA will join 91 Days as one of the surprisingly good recent Western-styled shows.

Akiba’s Trip the Animation

All those old camera shops in Japan. I feel ya.

While the animation goes down the trash chute at times and the action is anything but impressive, Akiba’s Trip makes a wise move by focusing on the comedy more than anything else. What’s more is that it accomplishes this without resorting to obvious point-and-laugh reference “parody”, although a lot of its entertainment value rests on the shoulders of Alisa the token Finn. Occasional clever observations of nerd hobbyist quirks earn it a few plus points as well. Vastly better than expected so far given its background as a game adaptation for which the bar has never been higher than a few inches, but we’re only getting started and I’ve seen better comedies dry up after the mid-season.

Chaos;Child

Millenial relationships, everyone.

Plot so implausible that it’s borderline hilarious, but I guess that’s what 5pb. stuff is generally about anyway. On the bright side it’s nowhere near as nonsensical and awful as its predecessor Chaos;Head, but it definitely is no Steins;Gate either. But at least so far it has had more going on in it than the entire two cours of Robotics;Notes. Onoe is cute, while the rest of the cast is only identifiable by hair color and “The guy with glasses” or “The guy without glasses”. Mediocre all around, with a high chance of the plot imploding during the latter third.

Gabriel DropOut


Good comedy, good visuals, good characters, and a season’s supply of reaction faces. No less expected from Dogakobo, although it probably won’t match Love Lab mostly due to the lack of a clear-cut theme for the gags. The latest ep was a drag though, but shit happens.

Hand Shakers

House training for Brazilians.

A bunch of my peers seem to have a hate boner for this show which I can’t really find justified. It’s a mediocre-to-sub-par action anime, but that’s just the default state of things in the action genre anyway. Hand Shakers only manages to strike by how unremarkable and inoffensive it is. You’ve got the good-two-shoes banal protagonist, the wallflower female companion, CG-ridden poorly choreographed action sequences, and a wafer-thin back story. But Hand Shakers does have a few charmpoints: Colorful side characters, a unique visual style it strictly adheres to, and strangely pleasing background music in mellow scenes. Forgettable, but nothing bad enough to warrant dropping at this point.

KonoSuba 2


Likely the best comedy of the bunch, overall polished and improved from the first season. Glad to have it around.

Little Witch Academia

Doing the C-41 color negative process.

I’m not a fan of Trigger and the shitshow that was Kill la Kill left me with a nasty aftertaste that still hasn’t worn off. The art style of Little Witch Academia instantly brought me back to the awful old days, and so I opted to pass on it. But it turned out there was a gap on my watchlist scheduling and LWA had the perfect timing to fill in for the dry early week. So onto the list it went. LWA seems to be playing the long game and the first four episodes have been an introduction to the setting while the main plot is yet to reveal itself. Therefore I can’t really draw a good judgment on it yet, but a few more weeks should be more than enough to see if it has more to it than a bunch of zany characters and magical hijinks. The protagonist is a one-dimensional blockhead but good support characters help to compensate. Sucy a best.

Masamune-kun no Revenge

Torpedo girl spirit!

I needed at least one highschool romcom that wasn’t of the Amagami-family, and Masamune-kun has been holding up pretty nicely. The preview gave off some cringey vibes, but the show itself turned out pretty standard stuff with a meathead guy chasing after a stuck up princess-type girl without too many melodramatics. Bread n’ butter romcom complete with tactical torpedo strikes, a predetermined outcome, and a support character girl who’s way hotter than the main one. Every healthy season’s staple.

Minakama

They really hit the spot with her seiyuu choice.

Cute girls riding bicycles, although by the fourth episode there has been awfully little of riding and the technical aspects of cycling have been largely left to the live action post-ED sequences. As far as I know Minakama is running for a single cour which means it doesn’t really have the luxury of time if it intends to actually pull a plot of some sort. In comparison the unfortunate Long Riders! had far less impressive production but at least it got down to business quickly. Nice sceneries and cute if somewhat plain characters. Now if only the plot got underway soon.

Seiren


Part of the Amagami family in all but the name. The first storyarc was entirely carried by Hikari’s charm, and now that we’re switching to the next girl I’m not too sure whether the show can still hold itself together. Crappy animation, near invisible protagonist, you know the drill. Shoichi has even less character than Junichi which I didn’t think was even possible, and his watered down nature was highlighted in the particularly unsatisfying ending of the first arc.

Urara Meirochou

HP/MP restored. Not as good as GochiUsa, but it will do. Bellies.


It hasn’t been too bad so far, but this season lacks the kind of killer show that Girlish Number pulled in the last season. Thankfully the Spring looks a little better with the second seasons of Danmachi and Uchouten Kazoku coming up, but more thoughts on that later. As for bloggan, I hope to be able to compose the next post in a little less cramped schedule. What C-41 has taught me so far is that developing color film is extremely messy, unhealthy, and not very much fun at all. But I’m just about done with paying considerable money to a lab and then spending a week in GIMP fixing the mess they made. It has become all the more important now that my next Japan trip is pretty much set in stone for October this year. Now then, I’ll leave you with a few shots from my recent exploits.

Carena EF-250, f/5.6 38mm. Rollei RPX-400 stand developed in Rodinal.
Praktica MTL5b, f/3.5 28mm SMC Takumar. Kodak TMax 400 developed in ID-11.
Minolta XG-M, f/2.8 35mm MD Rokkor. Kodak TMax 100 developed in ID-11.

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