My fall anime impressions continue with Ghibli's Sanzoku no Musume Ronja (Ronia the Robber's Daughter), Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso, Shingeki no Bahamut Genesis, Shirobako, Sora no Method, Terra Formars, Trinity Seven, In Search of Lost Future, World Trigger, Yūna Yūki is a Hero, and A Good Librarian Like a Good Shepherd.
Sanzoku no Musume Ronja
Studio Ghibli takes their first forte into the medium of the anime series with Sanzoku no Musume Ronja (Ronia the Robber's Daughter). Being Studio Ghibli, one of the most prolific animation studios of all-time, there is obviously a lot of hype that it delivers the high quality we expect. Unfortunately, Sanzoku no Musume Ronja is leaving me conflicted. The majority of Ghibli's work is aimed at all-ages, yet most of the films have a mature edge that makes them enjoyable for older audiences. However, it would seem that Sanzoku no Musume Ronja is often too juvenile to appeal to older audiences. Despite this, there are still moments of the whimsical Ghibli brilliant that we have come to expect from the studio. The series is based on a Swedish children's novel, and it follows the simple story of Ronja, and her adventures as the daughter of a chief of a tribe of bandits that lives in a huge castle. Aside from the juvenile tone, one aspect of Sanzoku no Musume Ronja stands out above all else, the animation, but not in a good way. While Ghibli is known for stunning 2D animation, the series uses mediocre 3D animation on top of 2D backgrounds. While the 3D animation is not the worst I have ever seen, it is hard to look at times, especially the character designs of the supporting cast. It looks far too similar to western kid's cartoons. Also, the supporting male cast is almost all annoying and ruin most of the scenes that they are in. On the other hand, in typical Ghibli fashion, the female characters, Ronja and her mother, are rather likable. Most of the scenes involving just Ronja have the distinctive Ghibli vibe that reminds me of their best work. Unfortunately, the series focuses too much time on the other characters. Despite my criticisms, Musume Ronja is not bad, but just not up to Ghibli standard. As a fan of Ghibli, I will probably watch this series to completion, and if you are also a Ghibli, I would recommend that you at least give the first episode a watch.
Recommended For: Studio Ghibli fans,
Plot Summary: "The story is about a girl named Ronja who is the daughter of a chief of a tribe of bandits and lives in a huge castle in the forest with the bandits. The story follows Ronja as she encounters mystical creatures, makes friends with another young child like herself, and experiences life in the forest."
Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso
Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April) follows former piano prodigy, Arima Kosei, who, as a child, was a prolific pianist, but after his strict and demanding mother died, Kosei quit playing the piano. Several years later, Kosei's friend introduces him to Miyazono Kaori, a free spirited violinist, who plays in her own unique way, with the sole purpose of having fun. Apparently, Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso is going to turn into a romance, and thus far, is a very pleasant series. While my brief plot summary does not explain everything (more below), Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso is shaping up to be the romance series of the season with some strong dramatic and comedic elements. Unfortunately, the first episode falls into a few annoying clichés, but the later episodes improve upon the less-than-perfect opening episode.
One aspect of Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso that appeals to me more than anything else about it is the violin music. The violin is my favorite instrument, and the series has featured some truly beautiful violin music with variations on classical music. However, what makes the violin scenes work well is that there is a purpose in the story, and A-1 Pictures’ animation for those scenes is magnificent.
In addition to the likable characters with somewhat unique backstories, at least compared to most anime today, the comedy works for the most part. Not a lot of the comedy is original, but it adds some great levity to the series.
After three episodes, Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso is beautiful series with a lot of promise and superb music. If you like romance or classical music, definitely give this one a watch.
Recommended For: Violin fans, Romance fans, Romcom fans, Drama fans
Plot Summary: "Piano prodigy Arima Kosei dominated the competition and all child musicians knew his name. But after his mother, who was also his instructor, passed away, he had a mental breakdown while performing at a recital that resulted in him no longer being able to hear the sound of his piano even though his hearing was perfectly fine. Even two years later, Kosei hasn't touched the piano and views the world in monotone, and without any flair or color. He was content at living out his life with his good friends Tsubaki and Watari until, one day, a girl changed everything. Miyazono Kaori is a pretty, free spirited violinist whose playing style reflects her personality. Kaori helps Kosei return to the music world and show that it should be free and mold breaking unlike the structured and rigid style Kosei was used to."
Shingeki no Bahamut Genesis
Shingeki no Bahamut Genesis (Rage of Bahamut Genesis) takes place in a fantasy world that combines various figures from the mythology of various cultures, including Norse, Greek, and many others. The story focuses on Favaro Leone, a bounty hunter, who has an encounter with a mysterious woman from another world named Amira. Favaro is a clumsy and flamboyant guy, who often gets himself into trouble, which is how is becomes entangled in a magic contract with Amira to guide her to Helheim. Also, Kaisar Lidfald, a former noble, is a bounty hunter as well that is trying to hunt down Favaro to restore his lost honor. What ensues is a high energy adventure that is unlike most other anime that I have seen. In fact, the only thing that reminds me of Shingeki no Bahamut is the Pirates of the Caribbean films, yet the series is darker than those films. While the first episode did not sell me on the series as much as it did everyone else, episodes two, three, and four have solidified this as one of the season's most fun, entertaining, and unique anime. Episode three especially appeal to me with its zombie centered storyline.
Most episodes feature a unique blend of fantasy with a visual style that sets itself apart from other anime. MAPPA's animation style is a bit jarring at first, because it is so different than other anime, but after the first episode, its merits can be clearly seen. The character designs are more western in style, which makes sense in the context of the story, and the backgrounds are beautifully rendered. In addition, the action sequences are often very fluid, with a very cinematic feel to them.
Thus far, there are only a few problems with the series. One of which is the overall plot, which is a bit convoluted at this time. Maybe, in the future episodes, things will become more clear, but the best part of the plot is the fast pace adventure in each episode as the characters travel through this fantasy world. Another issue is that some of the one-off antagonists are the annoyingly over-the-top type. Other than those problems, Shingeki no Bahamut Genesis is becoming a highlight of the fall season, due to its unique animation and fun adventurous story.
Recommended For: Fantasy fans, Action fans, Adventure fans, MAPPA fans,
Shirobako, an anime about making anime. Shirobako revolves around Aoi Miyamori, who works for animation studio, as she tries to do her job of Production assistant at Musashino Animation. In the past, there have been countless anime and manga about writing manga, but not many about actually making anime, and thus, Shirobako is a unique commentary on the anime industry by the creators themselves. Of course, certain elements of the series are obviously fictitious, but one would hope that no one knows how to produce anime better than the people that actually produce anime. Obviously, I love anime, and seeing how anime is created from the perspective of the creators is rather intriguing. Watching the creators conflict over how certain elements of an anime like animation or direction is interesting to watch. One aspect the series effectively captures is the frantic rush to meet deadlines with everyone working overtime to get the animation ready for dubbing, editing, ect. Another great aspect is the commentary on the flaws that can make fans, like myself, annoyed. For example, the creators discuss still frames, recap episodes, and the "moe-fication" of anime, albeit briefly.
Despite the great concept, Shirobako does have a few notable flaws. For one, with so many characters working in the animation studio, you never get to know any of them and even trying to remember who is who with 30+ characters introduced in the first three episodes is difficult. Of course, an animation studio does have a lot of employees, “shō ga nai” (it can’t be helped). Another flaw is that the series is not as entertaining as it could be. I like dramas and slow building series, but it seems that Shirobako has a fast pace, but not necessarily a lot of entertainment value as it should have.
After P.A. Works' misfire with Glasslip last season, Shirobako seems to be a return to form as they continue to produce high quality visuals in everything they do. In the studio, there is a lot of attention to detail, which is a nice touch.
Despite the weak characterization, Shirobako is an intriguing look into creation of anime that anyone interested in the inner workings of an animation studio should most definitely give a try.
Recommended For: Otaku, Those interested in the creation of anime,
Plot Summary: "Five girls chase their dreams. The story revolves around the everyday troubles and hardships that occur when working in the anime industry, and the results and conflicts that happen day-to-day among the group of girls."
Sora no Method
In Lake Kiriya City, a mysterious blue saucer appears in the sky, yet no one knows where it came from or what it wants. Seven years later, the saucer is still in the sky, and it has become an attraction of sorts for the small city. Nonoka Komiya is a girl who had once lived in Lake Kiriya City as a child, directly before the saucer appeared, and after Nonoka and her father move back to the city. After arriving, Nonoka encounters a blue haired girl named Noel. Apparently, Nonoka and Noel have a connection to the saucer's arrival, yet you will have to watch the series to discover why. Four episodes in, Sora no Method (Celestial Method) is setting up some interesting character drama much in the same vein as other series like Anohana, and even though the series might be taking a few aspects that are bit too similar to previous work, thus far, it is delivering a solid drama. Surprisingly, some elements of the plot have already been revealed early in the series' run, which does give me hope that we will not have another Glasslip ending where nothing matters in the end. However, the sci-fi/fantasy elements introduced do add some variety to what could be a clichéd drama. Although, with the manga just starting, there is a chance that we may never receive a proper conclusion, unless, the anime and manga have little connection in terms of story, which is likely.
Studio 3Hz's animation is positively beautiful, and the moe character designs are all very pleasant. However, if slow moving drama is not your thing, maybe Sora no Method is not for you, but for everyone else, give it a try. So far, it is one of the season's better dramas.
Recommended For: Drama fans, Slice-of-Life fans, Sci-fi fans, Moe fans,
Plot Summary: "The story begins one winter day when the wish of a few girls was realized with a miracle, changing the landscape of a town. 'In the skies above this town, a disc is always there.'"
Terra Formars or, as I like to call, "Censorship the Anime," takes place 500 years in the future after humanity attempts to make Mars a habitable environment by terraforming it with chemicals and leaving the most indestructible creature on earth to live on it, the common cockroach. After hundreds of years of mutation, the cockroaches turn into giant humanoids with incredible strength, durability, and some form of intelligence. To take back Mars, humanity sends genetically enhanced soldiers and researchers to create a base on Mars and retake the planet.
Terra Formars is yet another series to leave me a bit conflicted. The first three episodes are not that great, at times they are even bad and hard to watch on occasion. However, parts of episode three, and most of four and five are surprisingly intense and entertaining. Another strong element is that the characters have absolutely no plot armor. There are a lot of characters, and while they are not fleshed out as well as they could be, main characters just die, instantly, which reminds me of Attack on Titan, except to an even more extreme extent. Because of this, the action scenes are increasingly intense, and it creates a strong sense of dread and foreboding. Yet another strong aspect is the genetically enhanced powers the characters have. When injected with a special serum, the soldiers are able to use abilities of various insects and arachnids to battle the cockroaches, which is very well executed idea for visually exciting sequences.
Aside from the sloppy character dialogue in the first couple of episodes, there is one glaring problem with Terra Formars, the censorship. Due to Terra Formars being aired on television in Japan, the violence is heavily censored. If you thought Tokyo Ghoul's censorship was annoying, Terra Formars is on a whole other level. As you can see in the gifs, the series literally uses black bars and circles to censor the violence, and it is censored to the point of hilarity! Nothing is wrong with censorship if necessary, but so much of it is censored that it drives me crazy at times. Thankfully, the recent episodes featured much less censorship since the giant bugs being killed do not have to be as censored. Part of me wants to wait for the uncensored version, but I am almost a little too impatient to wait because the series has me hooked now.
In terms of production, Liden Films' animation is not my preferred style, but it has grown on me as the series progresses. The music is surprisingly good in the series; it adds a lot to overall sense of dread.
Despite the slow start, Terra Formars is growing on me to the point where I think it could redeem itself to be one of the better anime of the fall by the end of the season.
Recommended For: Seinen fans, Action fans, Sci-Fi fans,
Plot Summary: "Terra Formars makes its anime debut as a startling work of science fiction and adventure. With Earth becoming increasingly overpopulated, an ambitious plan has been put into place to terraform Mars using mold and cockroaches. Nearly 500 years after the plan, a mission to Mars, Annex 1, is under way to accomplish crucial research into the Virus currently plaguing mankind with the crew members who've been injected with various DNA of life on Earth in order to combat the Terraformars, giant humanoid cockroaches."
Trinity Seven: 7-nin no Mahoutsukai
Trinity Seven: 7-nin no Mahoutsukai, a series that follows Arata Kasuga, who is the only survivor of the “Collapse Phenomenon,” which also took Arata’s cousin, and childhood friend, Hijiri. Arata discovers that he has incredible magic power, and is then recruited into a school for mages, which is, of course, an all girl school, except for Arata. Being the only guy in the school and surrounded by many beautiful girls, a typical plot for an ecchi/harem anime begins. Despite the interesting premise, Trinity Seven is not all that special. It is filled with fanservice and is comedic in tone. However, it is not without its merits. Being an ecchi/harem, it features many archetypal female protagonists, which produces some decent laughs. Seven Arcs’ animation is a little above average, and the use of 3D animation is not all that jarring. Both the opening and ending are among the best of season, featuring some very catchy tunes. For the most part, Trinity Seven is clichéd and a bit typical, but still entertaining at times; I will continue to watch it.
Recommended For: Ecchi/Harem fans, Fantasy fans,
Plot Summary: "In the "romantic comedy but sometime serious magical school story," life as Arata Kasuga knows it is wiped out by a bizarre incident known as "Collapse Phenomenon," which causes worldwide destruction and takes his cousin Hijiri Kasuga to the next world. To resolve the "Collapse Phenomenon" and bring back Hijiri, Arata enrolls in the Royal Biblia Academy. Waiting in the school are seven beautiful female magic users — the Trinity Seven."
Ushinawareta Mirai wo Motomete
Ushinawareta Mirai wo Motomete (In Search of Lost Future) is simultaneously intriguing and frustrating! Due to the long name, I will refer to it as Ushinawareta. Ushinawareta's first issue above everything else is the animation, particularly in the first episode, because it looks horrible! For some reason, Studio Feel, who did solid work on Locodol last season, decided to use an awkward blend of 3D and 2D animation to produce an off puttingly ugly effect to the entire series. For example, you may see a character rendered in 2D, and then a second later it changes to an abnormally 3D rendered character design. Oddly enough, the later episodes tone down the 3D-2D blend, and while it does not look horrible, it is still below average. With my frustrations about the animation aside, Ushinawareta tells a time-travel story of sorts. Even though most of the first episode was almost painful to watch, the last few minutes did something so unexpected, and surprisingly effective, that I am now hooked until the end. Thus far, Ushinawareta is not all that great due to the various clichés and the generally generic setting, but something about changing the past in a confusing way is keeping me coming back, despite so many flaws. It is not a guilty pleasure since it is not very pleasurable to watch, but it has hooked me, and now I cannot stop watching it, which is incredibly strange for me. Unless the plot for Ushinawareta pans out, I would not recommend to many viewers, at least not yet.
Recommended For: Time-travel fans,
Plot Summary: "The story is set one autumn at the beginning of the 21st century in the Uchihama area. Uchihama Academy is growing by leaps and bounds. With the construction of a new school building, there will be one last General Club Festival at the old building that is slated to be closed. The students vow to go all out to make this final cultural festival a success.
The Astronomy Club of the protagonist Sou Akiyama is filled with the big names on campus. Just before the festival on October 1, the club receives a request from the student executive committee to calm the uneasiness among the students. There are reports of ghost sightings, accidents, sleeping sickness, and other mysterious incidents at the old building. When Yui Furukawa, a quiet girl who transferred late into the school, appears before Sou, the gears of fate slowly begin to move."
World Trigger is clichéd shounen at its dullest. "One day, a gate to another world suddenly opens in Mikado City. Aliens invincible to Earth’s weapons, called “Neighbors”, start coming over. Earth’s only line of defense is a mysterious group called the “Border” who are armed with weapons called ‘Triggers.’”
World Trigger is about as boring as you can possibly make a shounen action series. There are moments when it is entertaining, yet those are few and far between. Episode three did improve the humor and action, but it is still not enough to keep me watching. The main character, Yūma Kuga, is likable enough, but the second MC, Osamu Mikumo, is incredibly annoying! He is intended to be funny, but it just does not work. To put the nail in the coffin, Toei Animation’s animation in the series is incredibly subpar, even for a shounen. The animation looks like something more than 10 years ago; heck, some anime in the 90s looked better! World Trigger’s only redeeming factor is the opening, which is quite good. Despite my heavy criticisms of the series, it is not all bad. At times, the series can be mildly entertaining, but unless you love the manga or area a hardcore shounen fan, World Trigger is not recommendable.
Recommended For: Manga fans, Harecore shouenen fans,
Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru
Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru (Yūna Yūki is a Hero), or Yuuna for short, is a series that is nothing like the poster or simple plot summary would make you to believe. If you truly want to be surprised by the series, go watch it now, although I am not saying that it is perfect by any means. With that out of the way, Yuuna is much like Madoka Magica, almost too much like it at times. One day, the girls of a school club named "Hero Club" discover that they are chosen to defend earth from giant monsters called "Vertex." Watching the series expecting yet another clichéd club series, yet having it turn into a mahou shoujo was a surprise for sure. However, unlike many mahou shoujo, Yuuna appears to have a slightly darker narrative (emphasis on slight) than a typical mahou shoujo, and the action is much more akin to something like Madoka Magica, except with a science fiction slant. Three episodes in, Yuuna comes as an unexpected surprise. It appears that the series is going to take some of the central elements of Madoka Magica, yet not go in the dark deconstruction route.
Studio Gokumi's animation is quite solid and a little above average, especially in the action sequences, and the music is quite good as well.
The characters are mostly likable and moe, and the interactions are pleasant to watch. The series appears to be setting up a mysterious, and potentially dark, backstory for one the characters, which could lead in an interesting direction. Yuuna seems to have a lot of potential, and while we will have to wait and see if it can fulfil upon said potential by the end of the series, it is worth watching for fans of the mahou shoujo genre.
Recommended For: Mahou shoujo fans,
Plot Summary: "The story takes place in the era of the gods, year 300. Yuuna Yuuki lives an ordinary life as a second year middle school student, but she's also a member of the "Hero Club," where club activities involve dealing with a mysterious being called 'Vertex.'"
So far, Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai is not about much beyond the friendship between the characters, and the cute and sometimes funny interaction. The main female character, Tsugumi Shirasaki, is refreshingly understanding of an awkward situation that occurs between her and the main male character, Kyōtarō Kakei, which obviously leads to misunderstandings and various antics.
Hoods Entertainment’s animation is mostly standard for the genre, although it does have a few moments of above average animation.
Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai is the type of series that is worth watching, due to the lack of major flaws, yet it is not a series that I would recommend to everyone, especially if you only watch a few anime each season.
Recommended For: Club genre fans, High school genre fans,
Plot Summary: "The story is set at Shiomi Academy, a vast, prestigious academy with a Daitoshokan (literally, "great library") that rivals Japan's national library. As a member of the Library Club, Kyoutarou Kakei goes to Daitoshokan to enjoy reading by himself. He then meets a second-year girl named Tsugumi Shirasaki through the efforts of a so-called 'shepherd' who fulfills people's wishes. Eventually, more girls join the club thanks to the 'shepherd.'"
What are your favorites of the season? Watch series are you watching? Please comment below and let me know.
Below are links to the previous parts of my fall impressions, as well as my summer review.Fall Anime Impressions: Part 1
Fall Anime Impressions: Part 2
Fall Anime Impressions: Part 3
Summer Anime Review: Top 20: Part 1
Summer Anime Review: Top 20: Part 2
Summer Anime Review: Top 20: Part 3
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