Hello. I welcome you to Spring 2017 Clusterfuck of Japanese Animations. Please peruse to your delight.
Alice & Zoroku
Oh boy its another “Girl escapes from a secret organization and has a random encounter on a rain swept road” show! What? You didn’t know about this genre before? Well neither did I, but then we had that shitty Brynhildr show and that awesome Flip Flappers show so somebody at the ever awful J.C. Staff decided “Hey! Here’s something we haven’t ripped off yet!” and thus we have Alice & Zoroku, a watered down SOL version of these usual psychokinetc gore-a-thon shows. Sounds…average.
So in a world where someone decided to remake Rozen Maiden with actual lolis, a girl known as the Red Queen has fled from the evil government organization of the week to that far off haven for people wanting to hide…Shijuku!…wait that’s a terrible idea…What’s an even worse idea is to trying to make a magical girl spirit pact not with some strapping young kid but instead a grumpy old jackass named Zoroku. But hey here’s some action scenes to make the show far more entertain…
…oh god. My eyes…get it away from me…dat suckoooga.
Well once we get past that bit of… quality, we’re still stuck with a double length episode, which means 24 more minutes of grumpy gus old dude, his awful CGI Mini Cooper, and Not-Lucy going all not-diclonius on more magical girls and that dumbass alien kid from World Trigger. Its a slog and at many points I considered dropping this and letting Rac suffer (YOU OWE ME.) only two have Zoroku’s abuse of Sana, the Red Queen and her anime show bullshit drag me back in. And the sad part is, this actually could have been good. There’s a potential for parody of these bad paranormal biohazard harem shows that actually would have worked and may have made for a decent sleeper hit this season but noooooooooo, we can’t trust J.C. Staff to do anything right and thus we’re just left with a painfully dull, painfully cheap looking mess.
Fuck this show. Fuck it in the ass. – Lord Dalek
Attack on Titan 2: The Zeke-quel
When watching the new episode with other people, someone remarked that this premiere felt like watching the season premiere of The Walking Dead. You know, the kind of premiere where very little happens and you’re left wondering if you should’ve went for several bathroom breaks. And you watch not of personal interest, but just so you can talk to other people at threads, water coolers, alleys, and anime cons about the latest big shocking event to pass. Even a chunk of the cast spends a good part of the episode waiting for something to occur. I’m sure it was meant to be cheeky and a nod to how long it’s been since the last episode, where pregnant viewers who watched Annie get beat up are now raising toddlers. People who just started college are now finishing up their senior theses and discovering the bitter joy of unemployment. Such a gap between episodes that would make Sherlock fans blush, the new Attack on Titan offers nothing new for the sweet summer child of a viewer. Eren’s still bug-eyed, the Titans are still drawn to be drunk, naked people, and courageous speeches of hope are still instantly subverted by shrieks and crying. If anything, it does refresh and reinvite you to the show’s themes in all of twenty minutes.
I guess you could say the advent of the Beast Titan sets up a new stage, along with the opening hinting at Krista’s role, but the first season’s often glacial pace makes me wonder how much this season will actually deliver, especially with the news that it will only run for one cour. Yes, I sound quite sour, and to those who haven’t read the last few articles about Attack on Titan at all, I might seem even contrarian. But what made the first episode so special all those years ago has vanished, and now I’m stuck looking at spoilers from the newest chapter out of amusement and not wonder. For intrepid Titan fans, have you seen what the latest chapters are about? It’s nonsense. All the series’ previous subversions of worn out anime cliches are now played bizarrely and utterly straight. I don’t wish to spoil for anime-only fans, but the Beast Titan’s voice actor being Dio Brando’s is quite fitting. Anyway, hope you guys love the Krista arc. – BloodyMarquis
Usual crappy shit that other guy wrote!
Once upon a time, there was a show called “Attack on Titan.” It was popular. It was VERRRY popular. So popular in fact that its popularity quickly spread from the land of the rising sun to the ol’ red white and blue. In fact its popularity was so great that volume 1 of the manga became the highest selling single TPB of any manga ever released in the US. There were live action movies, a theatrical reedit of the series, all sorts of merchandise, and so on. Obviously with a franchise this successful, the natural thing would be to make a follow up as soon as possible!
…and yet, here we are four years too late for anyone to care.
Yup its really been four years since the first season of Attack on Titan. Since then, a slew of edgelord “Titan-Like” shonenshit have appeared, failed to make an impression, and disappeared into the night. That massively selling manga didn’t so much as fade off but fall off a cliff in sales (taking the New York Times Bestseller list with it in the process). The amount of folks with Colossal Titan on their shirts has dwindled as Wit continued to drag their feet with dreck like that show with the vampire lolis. Basically Titan isn’t what it used to be as a brand and it is into this situation (highly similar to the one in which the first series began) that we are now given its much belated return.
So anyway where were we? Of yeah there was that big Titan burried with the wall itself. As Hanchi tries to pry information from the local wacky eyes priest, Wall Rose gets breached!…again! (DAMMIT TROST!) Connie, Sasha, and Reiner are sent off to evacuate the surrounding cities in their civies due to the lack of time needed to gear up. Eren finally recovers from whatever the hell happened to him in episode 25 but otherwise is only in the episode to prevent confused exclaimations of “WHERE’S EREN?” And a new weird titan appears, a giant hairy guy who can…talk?!?! Gore! Shaky cam! Old film effects! Bulging eyes! Business as usual!
Attack on Titan Season 2 doesn’t even try to hide the fact its just the long delayed third cour of Attack on Titan. Hell it even continues the episode numbering right where it left off. As such this is absolutely impossible to get into if you’re a newcomer. The juggling act the show has to do to keep all these disparate plot strands it keeps throwing at us is already too much of a challenge for the show to handle on its own and the fact that our three lead protagonists have more screen time in the opening title sequence than they do in the episode proper might leave novices confused as to what this show is supposed to be about. I can only imagine the decreased episode order from 25 to just 12 is the cause of this.
For fans only. – Lord Dalek
I’m really sick of hearing all the complaints from all the butt-hurt AOT fans that they waited four years for twelve episodes. That Wit Studio spent four years just working on these twelve episodes and wasn’t doing any other shows in the meantime. That fans somehow deserve, no, are ENTITLED to more episodes. Well, sorry to break it to you, but that’s not how anime production works. They probably only started working on this season after Kabaneri’s production wrapped up. They probably had less than a year of prep time before broadcast, the industry standard. So forget about what you’re not getting and just enjoy what you are getting right now you ungrateful assholes.
With that out of the way, Attack on Titan season two. The show basically picks up where it left off and doesn’t waste much time getting you caught up to speed. It boasts the same level of visual polish and high standard of animation quality as the first season, nary a difference really. The tone is as over the top and bombastic as ever, with some hilariously goofy Titan designs and walk cycles, wonderfully brutal death scenes, and lots of screaming and shouting and crying. All the making of a solid dumb popcorn action shonen fun. It really is just more Attack on Titan, for better and worse.
If this season is going to end where I think it will there’ll be a lot of action, blood, twists, and betrayals for people who haven’t already read the manga to look forward to. Pacing-wise I’m concerned that’ll all feel dragged out, but it’ll still probably be better paced than the Trost arc was so I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Honestly, it doesn’t matter since this will undoubtedly be the best-looking and most talked about anime of this season regardless. Practically everyone in the anime community will be watching it, and heck, even non-anime fans considering it’ll start airing on Toonami before the end of the month. You don’t need me to tell you to watch this because if you can’t possibly not have an opinion on a show this big by now. All I’ll say is that I like the Beast Titan and enjoyed seeing his introduction scene animated. That was one of the moments I was most looking forward to out of this season and it turned out as I expected. That sums AOT season 2 quite nicely actually. It so far meets expectations. Let’s just see if it lives up the to hype people have had for it these past four years. – LumRanmaYasha
GRANBLUE FANTASY The Animation
This is an odd one for us. Technically GRANBLUE FANTASY (all caps because Crunchyroll did it) was supposed to air last season and indeed it did…for two episodes as a preview special. However production setbacks delayed the actual start of the series proper to Spring cour which is why its appearing now despite the pilot being on Crunchyroll for the better part of three months.
That said… I probably should have written this up last January anyway since the general lack of effort or originality on display here would have totally fit in with the dumpster fire that was Winter 2017.
So what’s this show about? Well have you ever watched Laputa? Have you ever played Lunar? Are you a horrible secretion who likes Fairy Tail? Well this is all of that! But 100x more bland. Mysterious blue haired girl falls from an airship by means of mysterious glowing blue gem. She encounters Average Guy and his annoying flying cat thing sidekick. They are pursued by the local evil empire because shitty fantasy anime before being rescued by a Not-Erza. And…that’s it. Literally the plot stops 13 minutes in. Great…just great. No wonder this is based off a card game. Literally noone cares.
So what else can I talk about here? The animation? Oh its bad. Its really bad. Everything’s really scratchy and unrefined and I’m sure that’s not the fault of Crunchyroll’s recent compression scam. The CGI is incredibly obvious and intrusive, but that’s not surprising since its A-1. Otherwise its just meh all around and I’m sick of it already. At least the music’s good, its by some obscure guy who did the soundtracks to Rad Racer and 3D World Runner back in the 80s before vanishing off the face of the Earth. Wonder what happened to him? That’s all there’s left to be said about Granblue.
Oh wait! They also do a tribute to the dolphin fucking scene from Fa—and I’m out. – Lord Dalek
The NEW Laughing Salesman
Before there was Doraemon, there was The Laughing Salesman. A darker, harder edged version of the “be careful what you wish for”-type stories the illustrious Fujiko Fujio combine would later perfect with Nobita-abuse. Suffice to say, it didn’t run nearly as long as that damn robot cat in print, however the saga of a nasty little man who dishes out nasty karmic justice to even nastier not-so-little men is apparently so fondly remembered in Japan that it got a 100+ episode adaptation in the early 90s and now a new one to celebrate the franchise’s 40th. And this one actually got subbed to boot, so now Americans can be exposed to another ancient manga franchise a bajillion years after it ceased to be relevant ala Osomatsu-Kun. However, unlike Osomatsu-San, this is played completely straight which may make or break the show in the end.
Now since this is based off a short comedy manga with only one character the plot is pretty simple. There exists a man in Japan name Moguro who will make your dreams come true, as long as you don’t stray too far from his “path of decency”. Do that and he will wreck your shit faster than the Road Runner wrecks The Coyote. This week’s marks include a pair of office workers who waste their lives away at an imaginary burleque club instead of showing up to work in time and then a sadsack office lady who gets way more (or less) than she bought using Moguro’s surprisingly useless credit card. In both cases these people get what they deserve but the outcomes aren’t as funny or smart as they should be. This isn’t to say its bad, it just left me a little wanting.
Production wise, I ain’t gonna lie, this show is pretty terrible looking with bargain basement low frame animation and in some cases just stils. No surprise really since its poverty row studio Shin-Ei in the driver’s seat here. The OP on the other hand is AWESOME and may end up being the best of the season. All in all, I’m not sure there’s any real reason to watch The New Laughing Salesman. Its not very funny, its pedigree is largely irrelevant, and it doesn’t seem like it has much potential beyond its rather simple premise. Your mileage will obviously vary of course though. — Lord Dalek
Monster Strike 2
Monster Strike 2 is the sequel to Monster Strike. I never watched Monster Strike, but I’m sure it was pleasant. The episode starts with our heroes chasing a dragon down a subway tunnel. When the dragon is about to hit an oncoming train, they make the train go to another dimension. They never bring back the train. They are horrible people who condemned hundreds to death in the void. Sadly, this is the only interesting thing that happens in the episode. Okay, that’s not completely true. They do go to an underground club that’s only for middle schoolers where the animators get to show off more cool monsters in these augmented reality fights called MS. What does MS stand for? I don’t know. Monster Strike, I guess? Marquis said it stood for multiple sclerosis, but I think he was reading a /cock/ thread. In any case, the bulk of the episode is about a new female transfer student from New Jersey joining their class and cozying it up with the male MC. New character marvels at how fun Japan is, and that’s pretty much where the episode goes, with another girl and the mascot character joking about how female MC must feel about a random blonde girl stealing her man. Even Steven Universe filler episodes do more with their 11 minutes. There are hints about something more nefarious in the background, as the main group is being stalked by a busty woman with a sunhat and some dude who skates around his lab in shorts and a lab coat, but nothing too interesting happened. Plus, I’m still too annoyed by Samurai Jack being preempted by Reddit and Memey to care. Monster Strike 2 gets a 5/10 for being average as heck and looking like video game cutscenes. – RacattackForce
My Hero Academia 2
Why do I find myself writing what’ll likely be the most negative review of MHA for the Clusterfuck two years in a row? I was the first person on AR to read it, and I believed in it’s potential early on when others dismissed it as generic shonen. I think it’s the best currently-running manga in Jump right now, it’s only competition being the rebounding One Piece, the gripping new series The Promised Neverland and Gintama, the latter of which is on it’s way out. I’ve defended it’s virtues against critics and naysayers several times, most recently against Doctor of the Ass Backwards Anime Podcast on Manga Mavericks. I’m very passionate about this series and its success and I’m quite happy it’s continuing to grow both in it’s storytelling and it’s popularity.
So let me be clear, I’m criticizing this premiere from a fan’s perspective. An anime adaptation is what most people judge an anime franchise on, and Shonen Jump properties especially live and die in terms of critical and popular respect based on them, at least as far as the western fandom is concerned. Bones’ adaptation of the series generally looks great and benefits from the life the voice cast, expressive animation, and color breathes into the world and characters. They’re a great studio that has consistently produced fine adaptations of long-running shonen manga, from Fullmetal Alchemist to Soul Eater to Fullmetal Alchemist…again. I just can’t help but feel that the pacing could be better.
I came around to the idea of them splitting the first chapter into two episodes, since there was a lot of content in there that benefited from the breathing space. However, I still don’t think that the first episode works on it’s own as self-contained premiere to a long-running shonen action series, and felt that making the premiere double length would’ve been a better solution. Ostensibly, I can understand why the pacing of the first season is the way it is, and in theory it could’ve allowed them to add in more material to flesh things out a bit more. That’s what Bones has done with their adaptations in the past. But the MHA adaptation was very faithful and didn’t add anything substantial to what was already there. It followed the practice of other long runners of having a measured, easy-going pace, and they did it well. Considering how the arcs break down and how many episodes they had, it made sense why they went in that direction.
But why, now that they have two cours – 25 episodes – to work with, are they proceeding at such a slow-burning pace? The season two premiere is ostensibly a recap episode, with long explanations going over Midoriya and All Might’s motivations and everything that happened in season one, with some exposition given about the Sports Festival tacked onto the end. There are some fun gags and important foreshadowing featuring yet to be introduced characters, and the episode delves briefly into Ochako’s motivations which will be a huge part of her character arc, especially in this season, but even taking all of that into account the new material comprises maybe less than a third of this premiere. I’m not sure why we’re so slowly being led into the story when there was literally a recap episode the week before.
I don’t think this is a bad episode by conventional shonen anime standards – it’s par for the course of a modern episode of One Piece – but a show like MHA doesn’t need to be paced like a Toei-style Shonen Jump adaptation. It has the benefit of a condensed episode count, a healthy production schedule, and plenty of source material to work with. I’m concerned that this season will be paced slower than it needs to be, and that will detract from it’s many great merits. The Sports Festival is, oddly enough, already a contentious arc among MHA fans, and when one of it’s biggest criticisms (even by Horikoshi himself) is that it went on longer than it needed to, it won’t benefit from being dragged out. I ’m hoping this won’t be an issue, and this premiere isn’t reflective of the pacing or production quality of the rest of the season. MHA is one of the best shonen action titles on the scene right now, and I really wanted this premiere to say “I am here!” with a heroic bold, booming confidence. Instead, I heard a lackadaisical yawn, as if it was leisurely waking up from a long slumber. To be fair, this is only the first episode. Easing into things slowly works well enough to catch up people who maybe haven’t watched or thought about the show in a year. I just hope it doesn’t take the whole season for it to really get going. – LumRanmaYasha
The Silver Guardian
Whelp its another season and that means more steaming piles of rancid Tianjin from our “friends” at Emon and TENCENT. Bloodivores was one of (if not the) worst shows of Fall 2016. Spiritpact might have been the worst show of Winter 2017 had a certain vomitorium called Hand Shakers not opened up across the street and now here’s Silver Guardian, a show with animation quality on par with that bad PV from Gi(a)rlish Number and a plot rehashed from a fair number of bad late 90s shonen shit.
So our hero is Suigin, a pool boy who can’t swim, and his Azudai retrace cat. For some reason Suigin is fighting a bunch of grey boring monsters and titan clones for reasons we are NOT made aware of. Also he’s apparently attracted to some retrace of that girl from Rosario X Vampire. I’m sure all of this will make sense soon, perhaps after the commercial brea—wait…credits? Its over?!?! ALREADY?????
Yes this is a 9-minute animu with no plot and no characters. Didn’t care when it started, cared even less after it finished. That’s how far Emon has fallen. To that I say… THE PUNISHMENT FITS THE CRIME. — Lord Dalek