Winter 2016 anime
January 9, 2016 5:51 PM - Subscribe

A new season of anime has started. Which series have caught your attention? Which series would be good to follow on FanFare?
posted by needled (26 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
When the world is facing utter destruction from a nearly indestructible octopus that can fly at Mach 20, what in the world are you supposed to do? Especially when elite assassins and the toughest in the military aren’t even able to lay a scratch on him? Obviously, you send in a group of troublesome third-year middle school students!
Wait, what? Ansatsu Kyoushitsu is in its second season? And there's an OVA? Why did no one tell me?

Really, I'll follow any recommendations you have needled, as you're way more current on this than I ever hope to be.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:49 PM on January 11, 2016

Here are a few series that got my attention:

Hai to Gensou no Grimgar: another "normal kids trapped in a fantasy game world", but this time they a) suffer from memory loss about their life before they gotten trapped, b) they're complete noobs who have trouble even engaging with the lowest class of monsters, let alone killing them and c) it's absolutely gorgeous with its pastel backgrounds.

Dimension W was the series that looked the most interesting in the previews and The Gods Themselves know I like any setting that revolves around a proper science fiction concept and follows through, but the male lead came across as a jackass in the first episode so my interest has flagged a little.

Koukaku no Pandora you could call this a maho yuri cyborg shojo show, couldn't you, especially with Nene's outfit and transformation scene at the end. Cliche ridden, but an excellent example of how to do an introductionary show right. From the guys behind Ghost in the Shell and Excel Saga.

Haruchika: Haruta & Chika: P. A. Works version of Hibike Euphonium with a mild mystery sauce which I was skeptical about beforehand but turned out to be a lot better than expected. Main character being a genki girl trying to turn herself into a refined lady/cool beauty (already looking the part with the obligatory long purple hairdo) by way of switching from volleyball to playing the flute was nicely refreshing.

Dagashi Kashi: his father wants him to become the ninth head of the family, but he'd rather draw manga than take over the old man's candy store. Then his dad gets an ally in the form of a crazed candy enthusiast girl (and heir to a huge candy conglomerate) who also wants him to make candy. Laugh out loud funny in places.

Shoujo-tachi wa Kouya o Mezasu: mostly character introduction leading up to the great revelation of what the series is going to be about: making erotic videogames. It's mostly a collection of archetypes so far: there's genki girl/friend of main character, side bro and of course mysterious slightly warped long black haired loner girl Kuroda driving the plot. Main character Bunta is not your average loser geek given a chance at redemption but seems well socialised and even somewhat popular in his class.

Boku Dake ga Inai Machi: failed mangaka has the involuntary power to leap backwards in time to right things that are going to go wrong, usually only a few minutes, but then something big happens. Excellently done so far and I liked the main character's mother: how often do you actually see mothers in anime, especially mothers of grownup characters? The overall mystery is barely explained at this point but the way the first episode was build up was promising. Second best series start I've seen so far this season.

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: the best series so far this season, about a fresh faced ex-prisoner who begs a rakugo storyteller who he'd seen perform in jail to take him on as an apprentice. I had no idea what to expect from this, knowing nothing about rakugo before I started watching this, but it was oddly compelling. It's hard to make what's essentially a static artform look interesting in animation, not to mention getting the nuances right, but it succeeded for me and the show has to courage to feature full performance, not excerpts. The first episode was a double length one but never lost my attention.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:09 AM on January 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

I checked out Grimgar because of the backgrounds and general art style, and fair warning, they cram a lot of uncomfortable fan service (including discussing a character's boobs at length) into the first episode. Might check out the second episode anyway, but that definitely wilted my interest.
posted by tautological at 6:37 PM on January 12, 2016

Welp, slim pickin's this season. Hoped Pandora in the Crimson Shell would be a good, but it seems as though the lessons learned from Real Drive was that it didn't feature enough underage girl-on-catgirl fingerbang action. WTF Shirow.
posted by pwnguin at 11:03 PM on January 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Iron-Blooded Orphans is a good Gundam series for a change. In fact, it is very good. You should be watching it. All of you. Right now.
posted by DoctorFedora at 12:28 AM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu is QUITE good and watchable by grownups (not that I require that, but it is nice sometimes).

The descriptions I'd read of Boku dake ga Inai Machi didn't appeal to me, because I'm wary of time travel and openly hostile to 'I have to prove my innocence' plots. But the first episode struck me as pretty darn good, in spite of the preparations I'd made to not like it.

Dimension W is good fun, too. It's a sci-fi/high tech setting with a private-eye guy who doesn't believe androids have real emotions; in spite of this, it manages NOT to seem like a cheap Blade Runner knockoff. Good character designs, appealing art in general... promising.

Those are the three best, for my money. I'm watching practically everything that Crunchyroll and Funimation picked up, but that's just because I have no personal standards. As mentioned above, Pandora In The Crimson Shell is unbelievable... it's got cat-eared "loli" androids exchanging combat apps by sticking their hands in each other's panties. I can't decide whether it's appalling but hilarious, appalling but unintentionally hilarious, or just appalling. As also mentioned above, Iron-Blooded Orphans is continuing and is still worth your time. Ditto Durarara.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 6:52 PM on January 14, 2016

The Winter 2016 kind of snuck up on me, and I only watched a couple of series so far.

The two must-watch winners at this point for me are:

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuku - the double-length first episode was amazing. The voice acting is great, and it's nice to see a storyline featuring adults.

Boku Dake ga Inai Machi - compelling story, and characters you can really get into. I am intrigued by the time travel mystery.

Some maybe's:

Dimension W - I found the depiction of Mira in ep. 1 rather off-putting, it was so relentlessly male otaku gaze-y. It got a bit better in episode 2, but at this point I wouldn't have problems dropping the series if pressed for time. I was okay with the male lead, reminded me a little bit of Darker Than Black's Hei. Maybe I should just re-watch Darker Than Black instead.

Dagashi Kashi - I'm watching it for the snacks.

Sekko Boys - it's a short, so an easy watch, and the absurd premise works so far. I follow k-pop and j-pop intermittently, so I am aware of some of the idol craziness and that just fits in well with the premise of talking plaster busts being an idol group.

Continuing from Winter 2015:

Garo: Guren no Tsuki - it's finally found its groove and I enjoy the Garo franchise, so continuing to watch.

Itoshi no Muco (Lovely Muuuuuuuco!) - another short, what's not to like about watching a goofy Akita who loves her human very much?


Usually i find some mecha and shonen series to enjoy, but this season is unusual for me in that I seem to be mostly going for humor or slice of life series. And anybody who finds this season to be slim pickings, go watch Death Parade from Winter 2015. If you haven't watched it yet, watch it.
posted by needled at 7:58 AM on January 18, 2016

Yeah, Sekko Boys--I usually don't pay much attention to short-episode shows, since there's only so much you can accomplish in a few minutes, even with everything else being equal. But Sekko Boys is pretty interesting. I mean, it's really peculiar. It's like an anime in which you keep expecting the Monty Python foot to come down and squash somebody.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 8:23 AM on January 18, 2016

I went through all the ones that they've added on Hulu and the only one I thought looked interesting was Dagashi Kashi. I watched the first couple of episodes last night. A little too much fan service for my taste, but I still found myself laughing. Plus I love dagashi stores and the place they have in the hearts of post-war era kids, so I'm enjoying it.

I'd really love to watch Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu. I think I'm going to have to sort out Crunchyroll and make that happen.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:09 PM on January 21, 2016

ob1quixote, you should totally make an FPP about dagashi!

I find it interesting that the two series I am most excited about this anime season are both explicitly situated in the Showa era, and even Dagashi Kashi could be seen as part of the Showa era nostalgia mentioned in one of the dagashi links above. (Then there was last season's Concrete Revolutio, taking place in an alternate universe Showa era, nostalgic about the media products of the time, but casting a more critical eye at actual events that happened during that period, especially the late 1960's - early 1970's).
posted by needled at 8:34 AM on January 22, 2016

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuku and Boku Dake ga Inai Machi are my two favorites right now. I mean, adults! Anime about ADULTS! Is that even legal any more?

Grimgar- I have very low tolerance for fanservice, and if it gets worse, I'll drop it. On the other hand, the way that it's referencing, not fantasy videogames, but obviously old-school "roll 3D6 in order" D&D I found massively amusing. That and well, the kids who rolled their stats using "4D6-drop lowest" got together and left the rejects behind. Ones who couldn't take out a goblin. Not goblins, GOBLIN. At six-to-one odds. Oh MAN that reminds me to painfully of way too many games when I was in high school.

And evidently, in the next episode they do manage to win a fight. And have to process what that means. So I'll check the next one out as well.

I'm also continuing to watch the new Lupin the 3rd series, which is excellent. It has a lot of callbacks to old Lupin series and movies, but it's also it's own thing. very nicely updated, without being choked by the computer era.
posted by happyroach at 7:19 PM on January 24, 2016

Be interested to hear what you think of the next episode of Grimgar. I think the show either has something up its sleeve, or it's wildly tonally out of control.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 8:51 PM on January 24, 2016

Which is the next episode in this context: two or three?

Two was ....interesting. The first half gave one of the most horrific and realistic depictions of close quarters small scale medieval combat would be like, as our heroes try and straight up murder a goblin, followed by a slice of life montage set to soothing music, followed by a stupid bit of attempted fan service as the most obnoxious of the male characters attempts to peek on the women bathing and gets interrupted.

It felt like obligatory anime shenanigans at the time, but the repercussions of his act were felt all through the next episode in a way I hadn't seen before in an anime.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:40 AM on January 25, 2016

I meant episode two. I thought the fight with the goblin was really weirdly directed. The show went out of its way to underline the sort of petty brutality and awfulness of taking away a humanoid creature's life for, apparently, the price of a couple of meals for six people. It's like the creators went, "Now, we don't want this to seem like video game violence where the body just blinks and vanishes--no, the feel we're going for here is 'murdering a hobo'." It's like Reservoir Dogs: The Anime for a couple minutes.

But the show doesn't appear to be trying to say anything larger about violence, or ethics or... much of anything, really. It's like they just went, DUDE, wouldn't it be COOL to show how much this totally SUCKS for the goblin? And when it's over, it's back to the panty raids.

Granted--they've told us that these characters have had some information subtracted from their heads. They haven't made a big deal about it, but it's not impossible that there's some sinister backstory that will eventually be revealed, and maybe the show will prove to be more than it currently seems to be. But as it is... I can't help but feel that panty raids and brutal murders are NOT two great tastes that taste great together...
posted by Sing Or Swim at 6:37 PM on January 25, 2016

But the show doesn't appear to be trying to say anything larger about violence, or ethics or... much of anything, really.

What Grimgar does is present the ever popular "trapped in a videogame fantasy world" scenario (of Sword Art Online, Accell World, Log Horizon fame) and strip away its wishfulfillment elements. The first thing we see in episode one is your standard D&D party taking on and completely failing to even hurt two goblins, almost getting killed themselves. We then get flashbacks to how those people ended up in that situaton and learn they're not going off on monster quests for glory or to fight evil but because that is the only way they can earn money and survive in the world they found themselves in.

The second episode then shows the reality of what it is like when they do finally manage to corner and kill a goblin. I wouldn't call it cool myself, but actually quite harrowing especially when contrasted with the rest of the episode showing the protagonists reaping the fruits of their murder.

Then we get that stupid peeping attempt and I groaned a bit when I saw that, but again it turned out to fit with Grimgar's slow deconstruction. Because what would be passed off as fan service (but note we never got to see anything) or funny in another series, here had serious repercussions the next episode. It basically traumatised Shihoru for most of the episode, split the party in two and made things even more awkward than their chronic poverty already had.

That's what Grimgar does, subverting the viewer's expectations about yet another fantasy light novel adaptation.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:31 PM on January 25, 2016

>What Grimgar does is present the ever popular "trapped in a videogame fantasy world" scenario (of Sword Art Online, Accell World, Log Horizon fame) and strip away its wishfulfillment elements.

Okay, I'll buy that. Up to a point. They're underpowered and poor, and minor injuries hurt like hell. That's a novel take on the scenario: wish-denyment. I think it's generous to regard the peeping stuff as subverting anybody's expectations; it's near-indistinguishable from what it would look like if it were exactly fulfilling expectations. It made Shihoru uncomfortable, but the standard script for this kind of stuff calls for her to be uncomfortable anyway; being uncomfortable is pretty much her only character trait. And I thought the conversation that the other girl--the archer, I guess?--has with the protagonist about it was, IMO, sufficiently ineptly written that I couldn't tell if she was supposed to be flirting with him, telling him off, or just filling up time.

>when they do finally manage to corner and kill a goblin. I wouldn't call it cool myself, but actually quite harrowing

Yeah, I agree--I was half-jokingly wondering whether it was handled that way because whoever was directing thought it was cool. It struck me as tonally out of step with the rest of the show. But if they're subverting stuff, they should go ahead with their bad selves. I kind of think that the fanservicey stuff is subverting the subversion... but the show is good enough that I'm in for the time being.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 5:40 AM on January 26, 2016

Brief thoughts on a few shows recently watched:

Active Raid. Near-future police drama with power suits. Dull animation, incoherent plot, uninteresting characters, boring dialog. Quitting after one interminable episode.

BBK/BRNK. Kids in exotic clothing vs adults in exotic clothing, with mecha and witches, in a future Tokyo. Gorgeous art and animation. First episode is fast-paced, entertaining, and confusing. I'll watch a bit more.

Aokana: Four Rhythm Across the Blue. Uninspired high school comedy, with gimmick of cast being able to fly with anti-gravity shoes. I quit halfway through the first episode.

Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories. Limited animation mimics the traditional kamishibai public storytelling technique using picture boards. 4 1/2 minute nougats of creepy goodness. Try one!
posted by Slithy_Tove at 4:05 PM on January 30, 2016

I would add to your review of Active Raid only that it also asks you to feel sorry for the police, whose crime-fighting efforts are hampered by bigwigs and, you know, LAWS... and by meanies in the media who are always picking on them. I know, it's a standard cop show setup--the heroes have to be loose cannons; rebels are cooler than authority figures, so even the cops have to somehow be cast as rebels. But given the tenor of the news one hears about police nowadays, it's difficult to get behind the idea that they could REALLY get something done if only their hands weren't tied by all these pointless RULES...

BBK/BRNK: You know how, at the end of Laputa, all the high-tech-is-indistinguishable-from-magic stuff from the disintegrating island in the sky is falling into the ocean? I feel like Bubuki/Buranki wants to take that as a kind of starting point, but then go off in a battlin'-robots direction. The CGI is occasionally a little creepy, but the show overall isn't bad.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 7:26 AM on January 31, 2016

Sing or Swim, I wondered whether Active Raid was trying to be an updated Bubblegum Crisis. Which, when you think about it, also featured an extra-legal heavily armed militia group dealing with social problems that the regular police couldn't.

The difference, of course, is that Active Raid is lousy, and BGC was awesome, politics aside.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 11:41 AM on January 31, 2016

Man I love talkin' about this kinda stuff! (rubs hands together) Unfortunately I haven't seen Bubblegum Crisis. I'll just see myself out.

And another thing about Active Raid: Don't they have an IT guy to tell them not to install the obviously-sinister I Dream Of Clippy malware chick on all their computers? Oh, you've just seen the first episode. They've all got this chirpy 'personal assistant' app installed on their work computers, which shows up in the form of a character that looks like Barbara Eden, acts like Clippy, and is utterly obviously going to turn out to be some kind of evil hacking scheme. So they all work with these bleeding-edge high-tech power suits all day long, but none of them knows not to install the Bing toolbar...
posted by Sing Or Swim at 9:01 AM on February 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Anyone watching Koyomimonogatari?
I stumbled across Monogatari during the Hanamonogatari series, and it's weirdly mesmerizing. In the fall thread, apparently there was a "Owarimonogatari hype train?" but I was not informed there was a hype train. To me it felt like I had accidentally found a show from another universe that I didn't know how to explain to anyone.
posted by RobotHero at 9:18 PM on February 9, 2016

Koyomimonogatari seems tio have been overlooked by fansubbers so far, as I haven't found it available in an acceptable quality yet.

The Monogatari series as a whole I've inhaled last year and it's perhaps the most anime series ever to gain widespread popularity; I mean the first shot of the first episode of the first series is an arty panty shot. Not to mention that toothbrush scene in Nisemonogatari. It's lewd, juvenile, arty for arts sake (and budget) but it's still one of the best anime projects ever despite (because of) it.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:44 AM on February 10, 2016

I've tried parts of the Monogatari series a couple times, and eventually failed every time. The art, staging, backgrounds, and general animation are beautiful. The characters are intriguing. The plot development is mind-numbingly slow and talky, and I'm never convinced by how the plot resolves itself. The fan service... In Bakemonogatari, the opening panty shot completely turned me off. I just don't get, or like, panty shots. The many, many later panty shots of underage Mayoi just squicked me out. Please, Japan, just please, no kids. But I thought Senjougahara's in-your-face sexuality, and her complete indifference to whatever the hell Araragi thought of it, was fascinating.

I recently tried Owarimonogatari, rather liked the first half with Oshino, didn't like the second half and never finished it.

This show is such a mix of good and terrible. I'm not going to waste any more time on it.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 11:11 AM on February 16, 2016

Nobody watches Akagami no Shirayuki-hime ?

Likeable characters, good story and the animation is great. Season 2 isn't as good as season 1 though...
posted by Pendragon at 8:24 AM on March 6, 2016

Someone recommended Shirobako and I just watched two episodes, and I realized it's everything I hoped Shoujo-tachi/Girls Beyond would be. It's about TV animation rather than shoujo games, but it's willing to get into the nitty-gritty of production and the kind of conflicts and personalities involved in a way that feels drawn from real life and draws belly-laughs from me. Where Girls Beyond would gloss over a lot of that stuff that I most enjoyed. (I did like the one scene where our hero was getting opinions on his script and everyone is saying, "Oh, it was pretty good," and he starts freaking out, "Pretty good? So not really good?" but it needed a lot more stuff like that.)

So yeah, Shirobako might be two years out of place for a Winter 2016 thread, but if that sounds like the sort of thing you were hoping to get from Shoujo-tachi wa Kouya o Mezasu / Girls Beyond the Wasteland, go check it out.
posted by RobotHero at 11:48 AM on May 21, 2016

Just got into Osomatsu-San and oh gracious it is good. Flying Witch seems to be the new Endearing Slice of Life series. Sakamoto Desu ga? is also super hilarious. JoJo's Bizarre Adventure's animated adaptations keep getting better.

There's so much good stuff out there right now, just in general. It's frustrating to remember at times that, try as I may, I just can't bring myself to consider watching TV a "hobby"
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:43 PM on May 22, 2016

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