Spring Season 2016 Midterms

3:23 PM

We're more or less half way done with the Spring season now, so I thought I'd do another check in to write about how things are going with the half dozen show's I'm watching. So far, I'd say this was a really solid season - I definitely had some worries going into it, as nothing stood out much, but boy was I wrong. Pretty great all around with nothing being really bad. Well, maybe except for Big Order, and the animation of Phoenix Wright, but you've always got to have the bad to have the good, right?

Also, I stopped watching Space Idols Macross Delta. Hayate was a god damn pain in the ass, and it wasn't a whole lot of fun to watch, so I dropped it. I stand by my sentiments about Hayate being a shit.

Hai-Furi (Highschool Fleet)

Ah, the show that defied all expectations. What looked like a fluffy moe-comedy revealed itself to be a tense, naval combat mystery series. Well, the first half did anyways. It struck a pretty good balance between it's lighthearted fun on the ship and the tense naval combat the girls got into throughout the series' first act. After a few episodes that tipped that balance, it looks like we're back into the thick of it, charting the course towards a resolution or climax of the series. The beginning of the second act was a little choppy to say the least. It's multiple story threads, from the dealings with the school principal, the investigators and the crew of the Harekaze saw episodes jumping back and forth between events that were running at the same time, making for a bit of a jarring, disjointed viewing experience.  Regardless, it looks like it's getting back into the swing of things next week as what's probably the Musashi approaches the Harekaze from out of the fog.

The animation is pretty solid, and the combat animations for the naval battles is pretty good looking. If I had to guess where the end game was, it's probably going to end up as a battle between the Blue Mermaids and the traditional military, as tensions rise between the two organizations.

It's not all smooth sailing for the Harekaze though. With a crew that's literally a class, most of the 20ish characters aren't really explored, mainly there whenever there's a crew gathering or hijinks are happening. It's almost been exclusively the bridge crew that's been explored, with a bit more of the engineering staff. While I realize it's not exactly possible to explore the entirety of the cast, it would have been nice to get some sort of introduction to the cast and their stations.

Also, Captain Akeno can be pretty annoying. I understand that she wants to be able to personally help all of her crew, as she views the boat less as a hierarchy and (definitely) more just as one big family, but she really needs to start learning that she can't keep throwing herself at problems. After a bit of a fall out between her and Mashiro does little to change her ways, though the latest episode does let her grow and tell her side of the story. Akeno's just the kind of character I don't like, so I think I'll always be annoyed with her.

Flying Witch

This charming little series is a dangerous one. It's just too good at what it does. Oozing with charm and a very laid-back, relaxing atmosphere, this one can put you right to sleep if you watch it at the wrong time. That's not a bad thing either! It's such a bright and happy series that it's hard not to feel good watching it. It's probably one of the best "healing" anime types I've seen in a good while. It hits that good mix of being slow enough while still being funny and serving up enough "action" to keep it from feeling empty.

The comedy is usually light. Nothing gut busting or absurd, but rather just light chuckles or even just a smile on your face. One of the most endearing features of this series are it's characters. Specifically in how they're depicted. They're really normal. And that's good because they kind of act they way you'd expect them to act. Chinatsu's probably the best example of this, because she's just brimming with energy and curiosity as she explores the new world of witches.

To top it all, the series maintains a real sharp look that rarely ever drops, not that there's a ton of animation needed for this series. Water looks really good in this series, and establishing shots just help get the message across that they're totally out in the country side. Chito's animation is pretty good, capturing the weird little movements cats and pets do.

It's not something for everybody though. As much as I like it, I can definitely see this being too slow for people, especially if they find themselves nodding off to it. Try not to watch it after lunch and you'll probably be fine!

Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto. (henceforth known as "Sakamoto")

This one probably takes "best comedy", as it's pretty hard to top the absurdity of this one. The gags are generally always funny, and always manage to do something relatively new, despite relying on the same "Sakamoto is perfect at everything" hook. The gags quickly evolve from "Sakamoto is perfect" to "what weird way is Sakamoto going to win?", and believe me, Sakamoto doesn't do anything normally. It's what makes this such a fun show to watch. Everyone is in for a penny, and no one questions anything about Sakamoto's seemingly superhuman abilities.

The series does a really good job of linking all of the segments together to make it feel much more like a single cohernet world. Character from past skits are always around doing their thing, which helps the series from falling into a character of the week vibe.

I mentioned this in my first impressions, but the character designs are really striking. They have a slight touch of realism to the faces that makes a whole lot of difference. This is particularly noticeable when it's done on characters with that tend towards the...less attractive, shall we say?

This would be a tough series to marathon. I feel like the gags do well because they're just that absurd, but after too many jokes they'll wear thing really quick. Plus, there's really only so much crazy you can do before it stops being funny.

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress (aka Kabaneri)

Did you enjoy Attack on Titan? Yeah? Well, this one is probably right up your alley too. I feel like it does everything better than Titan did, from just looking better, to sounding better. It gets into the campy "epic music", but has enough of a mix of music to avoid the problem that Titan had with it's overscored music.

Action sequences are cool and flashy, exactly as you'd expect them to be, given this series is basically a bag of director Araki's favourite things. The kabane seem really flimsy, as the fighters seem to be mowing them down a la Dynasty Warriors, and a lot of the kabane seem to just get splattered on the train in various manners. The crew of the Kotetsujou also seem oddly un-bothered to do serious damage to the carriages themselves, with one samurai blowing a gaping hole into the side of one. Also, I don't think you can store blood in a wooden bottle and expect that it stays good?

Episode feel really short because of how fast paced the action is - highly propulsive and always going forward. I'm just glad they're not doing that thing where every episode is a cliff hanger, like Titan was. It feels a lot healthier to watch when every episode doesn't feel like 10 minutes and then "TUNE IN NEXT WEEK!".

If you didn't like Titan, you might want to give this one a shot anyways. It's just different enough to have a really different overall feel, though a lot of the same issues occasionally rear their heads when the series drowns itself in campy drama.

Twin Star Exorcists

I'll be honest, while it hasn't been bad, the episodes so far have been a little slow in development. The last 7 episodes so far have been setting the characters up, and it's only gotten into developing the relationship between Benio and Rokuro in the latest episode. It hasn't been too empty of action sequences, but the gap in power between "regular" exorcists and the elites like Rokuro, Benio is only getting wider as the regular exorcists, like Rokuro's dorm mates, seemingly become more and more useless.

My opinion hasn't changed from back when I wrote up my First Impressions of the series. It remains a good looking, mostly enjoyable series. Looks like it's starting to rev it's engine and get into the actual story soon, so hopefully I'll have something new to say about it soon.

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