Winter 2016 anime review

Winter 2016 anime review

review

With the Winter 2016 line-up now at a close, I thought I would take a quick look back over the anime I have reviewed this season and do a swift summary and conclusion on them all. Many of my reviews were written only a few episodes in, and some of my opinions may have changed since all those months ago. Besides, one of the things that I think makes a good anime (or book, film or game, for that matter) is how good the ending is. Here I will take a look at those very important endings and rate them, in reverse order. Since these are ending reviews, there will be spoilers!

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13.
Mahou Shoujo Nante Mouiidesukara

There was no real ‘ending’ to speak of here, which what lets down so many anime shorts in my eyes. They sometimes feel like there’s no real need to tell a story just because the episodes are more like snapshots rather than full stories. Just because an anime is short doesn’t mean the viewership isn’t expecting a real conclusion to the time they’ve invested watching an anime. Perhaps I am over-thinking this one. Perhaps it was merely intended to just be a homage to the original manga. I just couldn’t understand why Yuzuka was able to become a magical girl if there was no real need for magical girls to be around anymore. What was she going to do in her swimming costume? Make bubbles? Credit where it’s due though, I did enjoy the episodes where magical girl physics were examined such as “What happens to your clothes when you transform?” and “What happens if you take of your magical girl costume and them transform again? Does it duplicate?”

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12.
Active Raid

I expected a little but more from Active Raid. It started off well but then things just got… uninteresting. By the time things started getting a bit more complex, I just found that I was no longer interested. It couldn’t decide where it stood on the realism-fantasy scale. I enjoyed Asami and her attempts at using English though – and some of the unit’s strategic manoeuvres were actually quite clever. Too bad it lost the majority of my attention before things really began kicking off, though. The ending looked like it had been left open just in case another season was announced, but I don’t think I will be following this one up if that’s the case.

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11.
Phantasy Star Online 2

Another one that I lost interest in just as things started getting interesting. After being subjected to elongated scenes of the school council organising festivals and playing video games (was anyone really doing any studying or taking exams whilst all this was going on?) the action finally started but by then I wasn’t particularly interested. I do remember wondering “When did Itsuki get so strong?” but I didn’t really care for an answer – he is a protagonist with no real personality to speak of that suddenly has the attentions of every attractive female character. He is the first harem lead archetype I have seen outside of a harem anime. Sadly, it’s a below-average tribute to the Phantasy Star online franchise.

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10.
Nurse Witch Komugi R

Sometimes I wonder if this one should have been a full anime. I think it could have easily been an anime short as I thought it introduced itself as very much a parody of magical girl anime like Madoka and Pretty Cure. I really liked Komugi as a character and actually found her quire amusing and her potential as a leading lady was actually quite high, but I think for the amount of screen-time her fellow Tombo-E girls had, particularly towards the end, I felt that everything lacked a bit of depth. The final couple of episodes, whilst they held my interest well enough, didn’t really have that ‘wow’ factor that end-of-series battles really go for. Overall, I found the whole story to be consistently mildly-amusing, but nothing more than that. Not sure if it was aiming to be something more, but I didn’t think it had a big enough impact on me.

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9.
Sekko Boys

Heh. I did enjoy Sekko Boys. It was good to finally see the sculptures stop being divas and band together in order to show Ishimoto just how much they appreciate the stuff that she’d done for them. The songs were always incredibly catchy and everything that happened was a parody of idol anime. I drew so many references from anime like Uta no Prince-sama and it shows how ridiculous some aspects could be in a really good tongue-in-cheek way. It never took itself too seriously and I never got tired of seeing what was essentially four bust sculptures going on tour, posing for pictures, going to high-class parties and gaining the attention of groupies. Ishimoto pushing them all on a warehouse trolley and making sure that none of them fell off was hilarious – especially when their weight causes her to pull her back, initiating her into the rest of the production team, who all also have bad backs from ferrying around The Rockies!

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8.
Please tell me! Galko-chan

I didn’t expect to enjoy this one as much as I did. The typical high schools discussions and scenarios and the various characters that make up the cast. The main trio, Galko, Otako and Ojou, were always entertaining and, despite their initial stereotypical portrayals slowly showed themselves to be solid characters made up of more than just their initial impressions. I particularly liked the flashback scenes where we saw how Otako became friends with Galko and the amusing ways in which we learned more about the different personalities of supporting characters. There was always a lot going on in this anime short, and the episode titles never failed to amuse me.

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7. Konosuba

I enjoyed Konosuba. I wouldn’t go as far as to rave about it the way I have heard many others do, but it was fun to watch. I would have liked to have enjoyed a bit more character development, though. Yes, having a completely incompetent quest group is fun to start with, but it would be nice to see them begin to get stronger rather than sticking to the same old gags. Let’s hope that the second season shows a bit more development. Other than that, I love the idea behind it – an alternative life after death depicted as an RPG and the real struggles of starting off as an ‘adventurer’ with a less-than-useful initial companion. Playing a few of these types of games before, I can certainly relate to these kinds of frustrations, so let’s hope that the gang eventually get strong enough to take on the mythological big bad soon.

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6.
Brave Beats

Despite all my criticisms of Brave Beats and how it is always generally suffering in Tribe Cool Crew‘s shadow, I couldn’t help but be quite impressed with the last couple of episodes. Not the plot, not really, but the dance scenes were really great to watch and the music ridiculously catchy. It’s become clear to me that I’m an absolute sucker for dance anime. They could have little to no plot as lot as the animation is of a decent quality with funky music and some great dance moves. Can’t really put my finger on why I like it so much, but I’m not going to think about it too much since I’ve forgiven it a multitude of sins. Many might object to my high rating of this (especially putting it higher than Konosuba) but Brave Beats was colourful, didn’t require much brain power and was a nice anime to sit and enjoy on a lazy Sunday morning.
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5.
GATE

GATE‘s always been a rather consistent watch with a fantasy theme and a decent dollop of action (and it’s even better if you ignore the facet that makes the whole thing look like Japanese military propaganda – but I’m not going to go there). With a compelling cast of core characters which went into a good deal of depth into each one this season was a nice addition to the increasingly-complex main plot, which was Italica raising an army against ‘the green men’. Of course, archers and chargers aren’t going to be any match for a range of guns and a fleet of military choppers, but thankfully the physical conflict has never been the main focus here. We saw plenty of diplomacy and political struggles amidst the range of personal problems many of the characters were also coming to terms with. Things never got too heavy for the audience and there was always a sense of humour to balance out the fighting.

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4.
Bubuki/Buranki

Another of my favourites packed with fun and action. It was good to finally get some background information on Reoko – I was wondering just what was her connection to Asuma, his mother and Treasure Island. All the character designs were so individual and their powers and Bubuki were so varied. The animation always seemed to be able to keep up with the increasing number of characters and elaborate fight scenes, too. At the very end we also saw an answer to the question that I, and probably a lot more people, have been asking form the very first episode: “Where the hell has Asuma’s sister gone, then?” We see a glimpse of her in the very last episode which promises another story, so let’s hope that we see a second season from this one in order to keep the fascinating story of the Buranki and the groups that control them all around the world.

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3.
AOKANA: Four Rhythm Across the Blue

Much like a student wearing Grav-Shoes, this one flew into the sky in the beginning, slowed and lowered its altitude in the middle before speeding up again and performing some death-defying stunts in the last couple of episodes. Though there’s no shortage of “Do your best and there’s no telling what you can achieve” anime, this one actually worked and you could see all the FC participants finding rivals, improving their skills and enjoying the game. They certainly gave a lot of depth to the series considering that it was based off an eroge visual novel. They could have distributed things better for a more even flight but, if I’m honest, the flight was worth the mild turbulence. Interesting concept, character design and satisfying ending. Now where can I get my own pair of Grav-Shoes?

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2.
Myriad Colours Phantom World

I liked the idea of Enigma at the end, but I felt that the whole conclusion fell a bit flat. I was hoping for somehing a bit more ‘epic’ – something that I have yet to have seen before. Some of the mid-series fight were more of an immersive experience, but it’s a Kyo-Ani production, which means there isn’t many negative things to say on the surface. I really identified with Mai and Reina in particular, and I was glad to see Haruhiko finally throw off his stigma as ‘personality-less harem lead’, something I started wondering if he was going to chronically suffer from, but the last two episodes saved him from this unforgivable character flew and we also learned the truth behind Ruru’s existence. Some of the characters and their powers were derived from Greek and Egyptian history, which is an added bonus. Overall, a colourful and enjoyable watch.

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1. ERASED

ERASED was by far my favourite anime this season. Full of suspense, thrills and intrigue it was almost a physical pain to wait a whole week for each episode. This one got me really thinking about who the killer was and what Satoru could do to help prevent the murder that he has regretted happening for all those years. The idea of someone going back in time to being a young child with all the memories and knowledge that they have gained over the years is a fascinating one along with the question of if people could go back, just what would they use this knowledge for? I would never have guessed the twists and turns leading to the full truth and I was impressed with how clever everything was and the lengths that Satoru was prepared to go through in order to right the wrongs that happened to his childhood friend. A truly special story.