Fall 2016 Season: Week 1

DRIFTERS

I was excited for this, since this is an adaptation of Kouta Hirano’s manga he made following the completion of Hellsing, a franchise I’m a huge fan of. As such, I came in expecting a violent, bloody spectacle like Hellsing Ultimate was. The beginning of this episode delivered on that, as it focuses on a bloody battle that is as exciting as I’d want from this series. The battle ends with our lead, Shimazu Toyohisa, limping and bleeding from the battlefield as he enters a hallway with a mysterious man at a desk, who forces him into one of the doors.

Then the episode is kind of dull. When he is dragged to an abandoned and destroyed castle where Oda Nobunaga and Nasu no Yoichi (whose name I had to look up) are staying, the show begins focusing on lame speeches about legacies and oblique goals, punctuated by unfunny moments of humor. These moments also existed in Hellsing, but the series never lingered on them like this one does. It kills the momentum and makes me wish for a return to the bloody spectacle that was the opening.

Luckily, the best aspect of Hirano’s work, the character designs, have translated well. This show looks phenomenal, with all of the characters being distinct and interesting to look at. It also brings back the Kouta Hirano method of designing characters based on his various fetishes (unlike Hellsing, it doesn’t look like EVERY CHARACTER is designed with at least one, but I recognize a few of them), so hopefully we will get some more insane designs dow the line. For now, I am just eagerly awaiting the next great action set-piece this series has to offer.

YURI ON ICE

And the prize for the show I saw the most anticipation for this season goes to this. It’s not hard to see why, it’s by a talented director who is popular (at least in the west), creating an anime targeted at adult women (who are almost never targeted by anime) about a sport that I do not believe has been done yet in anime, and is more than likely meant to be a gay romance. I mean, I hope it’s a gay romance, it seems like the direction it wants to go in. If it does pay off that way, then I’ll say that haven’t all wasted our time.

The animation on display here is gorgeous and the writing, while a little ham-fisted (he got depressed AND FAT once he lost), but there is a genuine, sweet story at work here. I look forward to more, but there’s not much to say now other than “go watch it”.

IZETTA: THE LAST WITCH

This is the biggest show of the season and the one I’m most expecting to collapse in on itself. I wasn’t terribly interested in the show on it’s own merits, as alternate history WWII stories don’t interest me even slightly and almost nothing in this episode existed to give any appeal beyond that one hook. The first and second acts of this episode are spent as somewhat standard, though well-executed, political thriller material. The break in between the two acts is faux-newsreel footage describing how not-WWII has been progressing (again, not a topic of interest to me).

Luckily, the third act gives me some kind of hook: the titular witch. Seeing the witch appear and just change the tone of the whole episode was actually what I wanted to see. I was finally hooked in the last third.

Now, the problem is that this is the brainchild of the guy behind Seikon No Qwasar (I’d say look it up yourself, but just know that I want my time spent looking at that garbage back, with interest), in addition to Guilty Crown (boooooo) and one of the minds behind Code Geass (words will never express how much I hate that show), so I’m expecting this to go sour at any point. Until then, it isn’t bad.

KEIJO!!!!!!!!

Sometimes, a show featuring sexually suggestive imagery can overcome it’s intent to entice and become a respectable work of art (look at Yuri On Ice, for instance), a work that crosses demographic lines and becomes a widely-beloved piece of art.

As the image chosen for this show proves, Keijo!!!!!!!! isn’t one of them.

This show is about exactly what it looks like ti’s about: girls hitting their butts (and breasts, but mostly butts) against each other in an absurdly inane sport. It’s dumb and, luckily, is aware of it. This isn’t a fanservice (read: boob and butt) show that is trying to justify itself, like Aesthetica Of A Rouge Hero (a show I remember existing and not being good) or Infinite Stratos. This is closer in tone to High School DxD or Daily Lives With Monster Girls, shameless fanservice shows that revel in their shamelessness and have fun with it (read: the girls will gladly get naked, how dare you say they should be ashamed?).

That the show is proud of focusing the camera on the fine rears of our female cast is good, because it also leads to the other quirk this show has: it thinks it’s a legitimate, respectable sport series (my joke for that is here). While the show is preoccupied with the cast’s sex appeal, the world they exist in makes them doing stuff like smacking people’s faces with their butts to dislocate their jaw and knock them unconscious (not kidding, that happens) or the incident that leads to the image for this series. This show takes the absurd action of girls smacking their butts together as seriously as a Yu-Gi-Oh! series takes a children’s card game (okay, not THAT seriously, we haven’t gotten to them doing this on motorcycles while some conspiracy involving a evil organization kidnapping is occurring, but it’s in the same ball park).

While I definitely had fun with this, I can’t help but think that this could easily just get too absurd. It is on a tightrope and it can fall if it gets either too gross (a problem I don’t think will happen) or becomes too serious. Still, if you like your T&A silly and fun, then I heartily recommend this series to you.

OCCULTIC;NINE

Our protagonist is talking really fast about how he’s a blogger who writes about occult happenings, arguing with the owner of a cafe he’s hanging out in who’s clearly a jokey stereotypical gay character. As he’s expositing to the audience what he does, his friend and colleague, a childish female character with impossibly large breasts that the camera loves to linger on, comes in and jumps up and down until our protagonist tells her to stop. After stopping, she takes out a stun gun (or at least I think it’s a stun gun) and zaps him with it. That’s the first three minutes of this episode.

The show is apparently an adaptation of a light novel by the guy behind the Science Adventure visual novel series (Chaos;Head, Steins;Gate, Robotics;Note) and the work is not too far removed from those works. The difference is that, where those works are slower and more character focused, this is definitely a plot-based narrative that wants us to pay attention. This episode is spent introducing us to our cast, which is large enough that none of the names stuck with me, not that their actions in this episode helped that. The episode gives the cast brief moments of spotlight, but they don’t really do much. This is both the beginning of a story and smack in the middle, which is supposed to give an air of mystery to the proceedings, but instead confuse me. If this is leading to something, I couldn’t tell you what it is, since the show is so cryptic with it’s clues and ideas. That the pacing was all over the place, going between really fast sequences and slow and atmospheric ones almost at random did not help it.

That the show didn’t look particularly great didn’t help it case, either. While the shot composition was mostly competent, the character designs are either bland or, especially for that one female character with JJ-cup breasts, look really bad. That the directing wants us to feel really intensely about the two bloody moments in the episode (the scalp in the mailbox and the professor’s corpse) comes off as ham-fisted and over-compensating for the rest of the episode’s talking heads approach to storytelling. I’m not immediately repulsed, but it definitely began on the wrong foot and needs to improve.

GRADES:

DRIFTERS: B+

YURI ON ICE: A-

IZETTA: THE LAST WITCH: B-

KEIJO!!!!!!!!: B+

OCCULTIC;NINE: C-

These shows are all available streaming on Crunchyroll.com
Drifters, Yuri On Ice, Izetta: The Last Witch, and Keijo!!!!!!!! are all licensed by Funimation.
Occultic;Nine is licensed by Aniplex of America
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Author: criticoffilm

Amateur film and anime critic, animation enthusiast, hopeful writer

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