Anime First Impressions: Fall 2017 Has Promise (Part 2)
Originally, I was going to put all of my first impressions in one post. As I started writing everything, though, it became really clear that I'd have to split this post into two. There are over ten different series that I'm watching this season and, let's be honest, that's just a lot for one post. So here we are.
If you haven't checked out Part 1 yet, you should probably go there first.
There was a lot of hype coming into the season, with tons of intriguing new series in the lineup, along with the return of one ultra-popular series. But when there's that much hype surrounding a season, there's pretty much only two ways it can go. Shows can either live up to the hype and blow us away, or they can fall short. Fall 2017 has been a pretty even mix, giving us a handful of shows that have lived up to or exceeded the pre-season promotions, and a handful that stumbled right from the start.
If Black Clover is this season's biggest disappointment, King's Game is a very close second. While Black Clover has a decent foundation with some substantial pacing and audio issues, King’s Game’s foundation is abysmal. The show centers around Nobuaki, a boy who transfer to a new school after surviving the deadly King’s Game, only for it to start again in his new class. The King’s Game is pretty simple: Some unknown source called the King orders students in the class to do things. They must complete the order before midnight, or they suffer a consequence. While the consequence can be anything, most of the time it’s death.
The initial concept of King’s Game seemed intriguing. How would students handle suddenly being in a deadly game? Would they band together? Would the orders affect their relationships with each other? Instead of that, though, the series choses to focus a large majority of its time either showing the students’ extremely gruesome deaths or on flashbacks to Nobuaki’s first time through the King’s Game. I’m four episodes in and I honestly couldn’t tell you the name of even one of Nobuaki’s new classmates, that’s how little time is spent in the present.
The whole show seems confused on what exactly it wants to focus on. It’s so far into the brief 12-episode season that it’s impossible for the show to fix its foundational issues now, so I’ve lost hope in the series redeeming itself. I’ll keep King’s Game in my queue and watch it if I have time, but it’s not on my priority list.
One of the best episodic series I’ve seen, Kino’s Journey doesn’t focus on an overarching plot or storyline. Instead, it uses a general premise—Kino traveling with their talking motorrad Hermes to new countries—to connect each one-episode plot together with a common thread. Most of the episodes have a deeper message, subtly commenting on modern societal topics and making the viewer think about what they would do or how they feel about a certain issue.
The first episode, for example, shows Kino and Hermes traveling to a country where murder is legal. On their way, they meet a man who is eager to reach the country and meet an infamous serial killer who supposedly lives there. Every episode of Kino’s Journey is something that people should experience for themselves, so I won’t spoil anything. But I will say that the episode will leave you thinking about what’s right and what’s wrong.
Kino’s Journey is a show that’s much more than what the surface shows. While visually stunning, it also makes you consider your own beliefs and values by putting you in a setting that’s just familiar enough to be relatable without being super realistic. After all, talking motorcycles and dogs exist in Kino’s world, but the problems that plague humanity are still the same.
Recovery of an MMO Junkie
Oh wow. This show is too adorable. Not to mention relatable. Moriko is a 30-year-old NEET who quit her job to basically just lounge around and play MMOs all day. Basically right at the start, Moriko, whose character is a male named Hayashi, meets a female character named Lily and they become instant game companions. Moriko joins the guild that Lily is in and makes even more in-game friends.
The show flips between Moriko facing in-game problems like trying to collect rare items from special loot boxes (relatable) and real-life issues like how to react when the checkout guy at the convenience store keeps talking to you beyond polite greetings (even more relatable).
Details about Moriko’s backstory and why she left her job get hinted at every now and then, but the show’s first episodes mainly focus on small and seemingly trivial problems. A more long-term plot thread started developing in episodes four and five, which just has me even more impatient for the next episode to be released.
Sengoku Night Blood
This show was tricky to judge at the start. The first episode focuses mostly on how Yuzuki, the main character, gets transported to another world that’s dominated by tribes of vampires and werewolves. It also introduces what I can only assume is ever tribe that we’re going to encounter throughout the series with zero information about them. For someone like me who’s coming into the series knowing essentially nothing, it was a whole big waste of time that the show could have spent doing something else.
Another thing that I noticed about the show almost immediately is how dark the show’s style is. I don’t mean dark as in mature or graphic, but simply the lack of light. There are a decent amount of night scenes even in the start, but the show maintains an ultra-shadow-y style to the point to where some scenes can be difficult to make out. The lighter daytime scenes, however, are perfectly fine, making the two times of day jarringly different viewing experiences.
Once the show actually starts developing some of the characters, however, it becomes a little more bearable. Yuzuki is little more than a filler character, which isn’t surprising considering the show’s source material is a fantasy love game. She’s very similar to Code: Realize’s Cardia, who also shows little emotion and often just sort of gets dragged along for the ride.
The male cast (aka every other character in the show) is filled with stereotypes who all seem to end up interested in Yuzuki simply because she’s a nice person. Now four episodes in, I can assure that there’s nothing unique or groundbreaking about Sengoku Night Blood. If you’re looking for a show that won’t require a lot of thought, has some funny moments every now and then, and features a stock cast of male characters courting a forgettable female main character, this show is perfect for you.
Tsukipro The Animation
So many idol animes, so little time! Tsukipro The Animation centers around four fairly new groups—Soara, SolidS, Quell, and Growth—that are under the Tsukino Entertainment Production (aka Tsukipro). Each of the first episodes focus on one of the groups as they prepare for their agency’s annual mega-concert.
Naturally, each group has their own “flavor”, so to speak. QUELL is a group filled with hard workers looking to support one of their more independently-successful members while SOARA is still doing their best to push aside their past experiences and focus on the future.
While there’s definitely a Tsukipro character for everyone, the super-quick episodic style makes it extremely difficult to remember the individual characters, let alone who belongs to what group. Unlike Idolm@ster Side M, which still includes the other groups even if they aren’t the episode’s focus, Tsukipro isolates the groups from each other, meaning it’s very easy to forget the names of the idols in a group that was featured two weeks ago because, well, you just haven’t seen them. It’s an okay show if you’re looking to pass time, but I don’t expect any lasting impressions to come out of this series.
What series have caught your attention this season? Is there a show that disappointed you? Let me know in the comments.