Fall 2017 – First Impressions Part III (Finale)

Man, the hits just keep coming! This season is so full of promise I don’t know where to begin.  Of course, it has its share of meh and clunkers too but let’s not dwell on those too much.

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Hit the jump and let’s dive into all the yummy goodness!

Just as a reminder, shows that I am watching are in bold, shows my wife and I are watching together are in bold italics.

Ancient Magus Bride

All through the episode…  fear, concern, relief, tension – all these emotions meant I kept having to remind myself to breathe.  The only reason I’m ranking this as the second best premiere to date is my absolute fanboyism for YuYuYu.  (Hey, at least I’m honest about it.)

But seriously.  I was kinda “OK, looks like it could be good” after watching the OVA series, but the premiere absolutely blew me away.  Starting right with the opening scene, with Chise signing her life away and accepting her chains it put the pressure on and barely let up.  The occasional quieter moments were just brief respites before the show closed in on us again.  And the ending scene, transitioning from the pressure and darkness to a ray of hope in the darkness was practically pitch perfect.

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Yeah, the whole bit about “my puppy” is a bit creepy, as is the intent to make her his bride…  But he expresses the latter in the form of a hope rather than a command.  And he is taking positive steps to raise her sense of self-worth and belonging…  Manipulative or merely socially clumsy? The line in the OVA (“I’m your magical teacher, you’re my human teacher”) makes me hope towards the latter.

And serious kudos to Takeuchi Ryouta, his voice work as Elias is simply amazing.

Verdict: KEEPER!

Anime-Gataris

A cliché, trope, and reference filled show about an anime club… The first main character introduced isn’t even sure she likes anime.  (In fact, though she watched some as a kid, she doesn’t currently watch any!)  The second main character is the stereotypical Rich Girl (complete with a butler that appears when she snaps her fingers) who is actually a complete otaku.  (Etc… Etc…)

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Let’s play “spot the references”. :)

Yet, I don’t actually dislike it.  It’s really kind of cute and doesn’t take itself all seriously.  In some ways, it’s like they’re telling a well-worn joke and asking us to join in on the telling.

Verdict:  Sure, why not?  It could easily go bad but let’s wait and see.  Tentative keeper.

Blend S

Mostly harmless CGDCT workplace comedy, I actually LOL’ed quite a few times over the situations and a couple of bad puns.  I could do without the manager’s leering and constant nosebleeds though…  That’s the one bad thing in the show.

Worth especial note – the seiyuus are doing a bang up job.  Each of the girls has a distinctive ‘normal’ (out of character) voice and a distinctive ‘in character’ voice.  Well, except for Maika, and it would be wrong for her to be so advanced so fast…  She is a newbie after all.

Verdict:  It’s not bad overall. Keeper.

Girls Last Tour

I watched this on Friday evening…  and woke up Saturday morning thinking “beautiful, amazing, horrible”.  I’ve spent the last two days trying to figure out what my subconscious was trying to tell me…  with no success.  Each of the three things are true taken in isolation, but I can’t consciously tie them together.  There’s obvious surface stuff, the girl’s situation is certainly horrible of course…  But there’s a deeper horror there too, the darkening world they inhabit.  The hinted at desperation to survive.  Their buoyant spirits in contrast to an uncaring world…  I just don’t know.

Also interesting is the genre mix – isekai, slice-of-life, road trip/journey, etc… and they’re making it work without straining to do so.  Each scene, concept, and connection moves easily from one to the next.

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What I do know is that Girls Last Tour is very, very good.  If you aren’t watching, you’re missing out.

Verdict: Strong keeper.

Kino’s Journey

There was an absolute ton of buzz about Journey, and the description sounded kinda interesting…  But honestly, I’m not sure I’m sold on it.  Though its other flaws didn’t help any, I didn’t care for the “Planet of Hats” atmosphere in Rolling Girls and I don’t much care for it here either.  Kino’s nature as a stolid and unemotional observer of the world around himself isn’t something I find attractive either.

I guess I’m looking for some larger thread to tie things together.  And maybe a sense of growth and change on Kino’s part.

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I did find the ‘lesson’ learned interesting, but if the series is nothing but a series of Aesopian observations…  that will get very old, very fast.  But some hints dropped by watchers of the original show lead me to hope that things will get better soon.  So…

Verdict: Tentative keeper.

Land of the Lustrous

I picked up Lustrous mostly because Bless was mesmerized by it and figured it didn’t hurt to check it out.

But frankly…  I’m not finding much to keep me interested.  I’ve seen/read one too many “weak character finds their plot driven destiny” stories for another one with so little ‘hook’ to be attractive.  (And that’s setting aside the eye-searing CGI animation.)  I do find Cinnabar’s story to be interesting, she’s not useless and despised because she’s weak – she’s useless and unliked because she’s too powerful and her unique abilities have devastating aftereffects.  That’s different from the norm.  That attracts my attention.

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Not desiring to kill, Cinnabar carefully walks the same track… She hates herself, but will not take it out on the world around her.

Verdict:  Unless it gets vastly better, probable drop after Cinnabar’s arc is over.

Love Live Sunshine!!

As the ending credits rolled my only thought was “that’s IT?“.  This felt more like an extended PV or Episode 0 than an actual Episode 1.  They spent a considerable amount of time checking in with all the protagonists and reminding us of their personality traits…  A show confident in itself shouldn’t need to do that.

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They spent basically the entire show setting up to deliver this one line…

But they did drop two important pieces of information – Aqours failed to advance in the Love Live competition, and the school is still going to be closed.

One of the deepest flaws of the first season was that they spent so much time reminding us that Aqours was following in μ’s footsteps, right down to the ridiculous repetition of the “save our school” plot.  That left very little room for Aqours to breathe and blossom on its own, though some of the best moments were found in those rare open spaces.  We’re still dealing with the fallout of the “save our school” plot, but there was a noticeable lack of μ’s references.  (None in fact.)  Maybe they’re finally ready to let Sunshine!! and Aqours to stand on its own feet and go its own way.

Maybe they’ll let the school actually close, but I doubt it because then the show loses all its motivation as set up so far.  On the other hand, if students from the school they’re being merged with discovers Aqours…  maybe they can address the question “why I am doing this?” in a new and different way.  Are they shining for their school or for their fans?  Just how do they define themselves?

Verdict:  Fingers crossed.

Two Car

Two Car was down in my “meh, sure, why not?” tier of shows.  The premiere didn’t move the needle much…  Part of that was because it was mostly an introduction to the show’s medium large cast.  Part of that was because they pushed the whole “you two girls are just alike”/”don’t they get along so well (even as they’re fighting)?” angle too dang hard.  I’ve never really thought that endless bickering represented attraction or compatibility.

Still, the racing was mildly interesting and could be more so if they told us more about the strategy.  There’s the bones of a decent sports anime, and I don’t necessarily dislike the whole frienemy schtick…  But so far moment they’ve given me very little reason to care about the outcome of either.

Verdict: Keeper for now, but dangerously close to the edge of the cliff.  If I end up pressed for time, over it goes.

Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru: Yuusha no Sho

Not nearly as apocalyptic as the original series premiere, but then it doesn’t need to be…  Yuusha no Sho is aimed squarely at fans of the original series and makes no pretense otherwise.  It’s mostly structured around introducing the new (new/old in the case of Washio Sumi/Togo Mimori) characters and the difficulties they face in their first battle together.   I do find it odd somehow that they (like Miyoshi Karin) received some form of battle training, when they didn’t in the original show.  (Not that the battle training seemed to be all that effective.)

There were some interesting and differences in the world and in the Hero System revealed.  The first two pop up during their henshin sequence – this generation of Heroes has neither fairies nor Mankai gauges.  After the battle, we see their teacher explain to the student that the girls have important jobs to do and will occasionally suddenly vanish.  In the original series, the existence of Heroes seemed to be kept something of a secret.

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The Mankai system must emerge at some point, because the original series introduces us to Nogi Sonoko who is gravely disabled due to its use.  It was chilling to see her here, young, happy, and battle willing.

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Seeing the Long Bridge intact was eerie – in the original series it’s a ruin.  We already know this generation of heroes faces a Final Battle.  I think we now know where that battle will occur.  I think that’s going to be the hardest part of the next few weeks…  I’m already growing to like these girls, but I also know what happens to them.

Also, as suggested reading, WordPress served up this interesting review of the first season.

Verdict:  If you know me, you don’t have to even ask – Keeper.

This will be the final first impressions post this season.  I’ll pick up with a short entry Wednesday with the stragglers and the first of the second episodes.

Premieres remaining: Wake Up Girls (later today), Inuyashiki, My Girlfriend is a Shobitch (both on Thurs), Robomasters (Fri) , March Comes in like a Lion (Sat).

I’m going to have to seriously think about how I’m going cover shows this season, there’s going to be too many for much depth on all of them.  This week is a kind of experiment in that direction – fast takes for most shows, longer/deeper where warranted.  This worked pretty good in the Winter/Spring 2017 seasons, but somehow I got away from that.

I still haven’t figured out where Worth Reading will shift to, but I’m guessing Friday.

So, drop me a line and tell me what you think of the new season so far!

21 thoughts on “Fall 2017 – First Impressions Part III (Finale)”

  1. I think there are a lot of shows that I want to see succeed this season. And it seems like you’re in a similar situation considering that you’ve written three lovely First Impression posts for Fall 2017.

    It’s unfortunate that Wake Up, Girls! Shin Shou came out today. They’re a bit late to the party, but hopefully you’ll stick with your WUG-chan.

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    1. Yah… Before Abyss and a couple of other shows really hit their stride, everyone was complaining (not entirely without merit) that last season was ‘weak’. This season… Man, what a firehose of potentially good stuff.

      Oh, I wouldn’t miss this premiere for the world. It’s been so hard to wait for my wife to get home (in another hour and a half) to watch it. She’d kill me if I watched it without her.

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  2. I was wondering whether I shoud watch YuYuYu or not, but it definitely looks unlikely, with the way the weekend is full this season. I’m still not done with all the weekend premiers (I want to check out Code:Realize, for example), and I’ve dropped Two Car while I was half into the show, not because it was bad, but it because it wasn’t anything that special and my anime saturation has peaked when I watched it. A lot of shows air at the weekend. A lot.

    Girl’s Last Tour is excellent. They’ve outdone themselves with the setting (though the CGI stands out unfavourably, on occasion). I find the girls’ mood interesting, there’s a sense of fatigue and fatalism, but also of curiosity, and there’s no overt dispair. Walking in a nuclear winter wonderland…

    Ancient Magus’ Bride is great. Elias, to me, makes the impression of an awkward geek: good at his speciality, but not at much else. Few social skills, but gets away with a lot because of his status (the way he was reprimanded for just walking on stage was quite respectful). I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a changeling or something like that – someone who’s grown up with faeries rather than humans. There was something intriguing about that final confrontation.

    Blend S was better than expected (I didn’t expect much), but I’m still not sure I’ll stick out an entire season. Animegataris was entertaining, flowed well, and had a cute, poppy soundtrack (if that was this show, I’m mixing up some).

    I liked Kino’s Journey well enough, but I’m not sure if I want this to be my first impression of show. I find the art a bit less appealing than the one of the original. I can’t see myself dropping this, though.

    Hoseki no Kuni was good. Opening shot: Hm, if it’s like this I might be okay with the CGI. Grass: Uh, no. I’m just not a fan of CGI. Paradoxically, my problem is that this show looks too good. I had no problem with Kemono Friends, which looked cheap and stupid, but somehow grew a special sort of charm from this. Here? It looks excellent: great colours, good expressivity, and so on. But the motions are so smooth, and the movement sometimes approaches quesiness-induction (no problems so far, but a few near misses). I adore the setting though; it’s interesting.

    Of the shows you’re not watching, Children of the Whales is the standout. It’s all-round good, with the animation (of flowing sand, for example) being the standout, here. It’s too early to tell, really, but it’s like a cross between Shink Sekai Yori and Serei no Moribito (in style, not content). Any fan of good fantasy settings should check this out. (And at least the first episode was good, narratively, too. Very well written.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m hearing good things about Whales all over the place – but though there are possible drops my schedule is just packed ATM and the premieres aren’t even over yet! Though looking ahead, other than 3 gatsu no Lion all that’s left is the “OK, I’m curious” tier. 3 gatsu itself would have to REALLY screw up the early eps to make me even consider dropping it.

      So, keep us posted, may yet be able to find time… And it wouldn’t be the first time you changed my mind.

      Blend S and Anime-gataris are my mindless drivel shows for this season… gotta have at least one pure mind candy anime IMO.

      Kino’s, I just don’t know. I want to like it, but it’s not making it easy.

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      1. Kino sort of reminded me The Little Prince. The same sense of journey, the same moralistic tone, more of a mean streak. I do wonder if Kino has an arc.

        Children of the Whales doesn’t have the sort of immediate impact Made in Abyss had. The art style is pretty, but it doesn’t feel that unique. The plot looks like a competetent but unexceptional hero’s journey for now (I assume there’ll be a leave-and-come-back-wiser story, though it could also go a different route). What’s great is the setting, and it’s visual presentation. This is quite literally set in a sea of sand; not a desert, but quicksand as far as you can see, with the occasional pieces of land floating on top. You can taste the dry air and smell the rain when it finally comes.

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  3. Yuki Yuna: I was a little taken aback by the almost immediate jump into battle without any buildup, and then I was even more taken aback by the nude transformations (even if it’s just Barbie doll nudity, I was never entirely comfortable with that in the Nanoha franchise either, much less here where I wasn’t expecting it, since the first season had none of that). But other than those two issues it was a strong start. The battle itself was a really good one, and the animation and soundtrack are as quality as ever. I really enjoyed finally seeing Gin and Sonoko fully animated, after having read the LN, and seeing them all start to bond after the battle was a nice reward for the first trial they cleared.

    Love Live Sunshine: Wow. So that was quite a downer note to start the season. It got my attention, though, that’s for sure. I can see the story going in a few different directions from here, and I know which way I hope it goes, but I don’t know if they really would commit to that path. We’ll see, but either way, I’m intrigued for now.

    The Ancient Magus Bride: Get hype. I always appreciate those infrequent occasions where I start a new series or franchise, and I can tell within the first ten minutes that the show is in very capable hands. This was one of those. It doesn’t hurt that I have a strong academic interest in folklore and fairy tales too, and this show is clearly drawing some of its inspiration from those.

    Girls Last Tour: We had that conversation about iyashikei not that long ago where you said you hadn’t watched any of the notable examples that have a more serious tone to them. It’s still too early to tell, but this has the feeling like it could be one of those. I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops (and I didn’t even realize until the end credits that Hanayo from Love Live is the voice of the blond girl). The only question for me to decide is whether I should watch this series before Yuki Yuna or after it.

    Here’s my streaming plan for this season –

    Fall Season:
    Tuesday: Food Wars 3
    Friday: Yuki Yuna, Girls Last Tour
    Saturday: Ancient Magus Bride, Love Live Sunshine

    Catalog:
    Continue watching: Aria the Animation (currently on episode 5)
    Amazon Strike Priority 1: Saekano Flat, Vivid Strike, Hell Girl (which I’ve been wanting to watch for a long time but couldn’t find on a legal site)
    Amazon Strike Priority 2 (If I still have time after clearing the Priority 1 shows): Made in Abyss, Darker Than Black

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @YuYuYu Yeah, it was strong – just somewhat quieter than the original. But then they started friends but not senshi in the original. Depending on the direction it takes, I think Girls will be after YuYuYu for me… Something at least a little lighter.

      So what direction do you hope for LLSS?

      I’d be interested in reading what you think of Saekano, though it started weaker than the first season it really gathered steam as the season went on.

      I hope you get to Abyss, it’s really that good. Have you checked out Konohana Kitan?

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    2. Forgot to mention – I was put off by the casual fanservice in the henshin sequences too. YuYuYu doesn’t even need that kind of cheap crap to get and maintain attention. It’s a really odd choice.

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      1. “Cheap crap” – exactly. Now yes, nude transformations have been around since the beginning of magical girl in the 70s. But it’s one thing to have totally sexless silhouette nudity in a show that’s made for little girls – Artemis actually discussed that aspect of magical girl transformations in one of her blog posts once. When you have the camera lingering over the bare bodies of grade school girls in a show that’s definitely aimed at an adult male audience, though, it just feels gross to me, even if it is Barbie Doll stuff. I’m actually kinda glad Bless isn’t watching this one in simulcast – after his epic Twitter meltdown over the last episode fanservice in Gamers the other day, I can just imagine his reaction to seeing that.

        I touched on it a little bit in my response to Remy’s review of episode 1 on his blog, but now that Sunshine has established that the school is closing no matter what, I hope they don’t go back on their word and opt for some kind of “miracle save” ending. I’d like to see them stick to their guns, keep it so that this really is the final decision, and make Aqours’ participation in Love Live about leaving a lasting, tangible memorial to their school. “Even if the school itself is gone, we’ll try to put its name in the pantheon of Love Live winners and make sure that it’s never forgotten.” I think that if they’re going to have Aqours win the Love Live, doing it on those terms would be a fitting and appropriate resolution for the more realistic & bittersweet tone that Sunshine has taken all along, compared to the original’s pure rags-to-riches fairy tale.

        I’m not planning to simulcast KK – five simulcasts is as much as I can manage right now, especially with that many catalog shows to watch in the next three months, too (and Abyss was a priority 1 show until I saw they had Hell Girl, but I’m definitely going to try my best to get to it). What I’ll probably do is keep KK on my list and look at trying it out after I’m done with Aria. I like to keep one or two of those peaceful/relaxing shows in my back pocket as something to watch right before I go to bed. At least it’s on CR, so I’m not on a deadline to finish it.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. So we both want LLSS! to go in them same general direction, just different ideas of the road to take. :) But I kinda doubt they’ll do either… LLSS! is ‘grittier’ than LL, but only in comparison. At the the end, it doesn’t (or hasn’t so far) strayed far from the shiny happy bouncy motifs (?) of LL itself.

          Having a peaceful/relaxing show on tap when/if you get to Abyss might not be a bad thing at all.

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        2. I don’t. But when I go sneak a peek at Bless’ blog to see if he’s unretired yet and see posts about Gamers in his Twitter feed over there in the sidebar, I gotta see what he has to say about it (just like I gotta take a look at your Mod pizzas every week, since there’s a Mod about 3 minutes walk from where I live – was that mushroom and ham yesterday?)

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Ah… I have him an few others on email alerts, and I get the rest via the WordPress reader. If a computer can do the work for me, I’m willing to let it. :) :)

          I don’t post about my pizza every week. I try not to anyway, because it would bore people… It’s pretty much the same pizza every week. Ham, salami, pepperoni, double sauce, double mushrooms, asiago, parmesan, with a pesto drizzle. Many of the staff know it almost as well as I do!

          Have you ever been to the MOD? I love the heck out of it… On top of being a pizza fiend, for the same price as a large burger combo I get dinner and lunch the next day.

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          1. Oh yeah, absolutely. Probably go there about once a month. Your build sounds really good, I’ll have to try that sometime. My current favorite build: garlic rub, mozzarella/asiago/gorgonzola, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, black olives, and spicy sausage.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. There’s quite a few shows I’m kind of hopeful for, but not a lot that amazed me so far with their first episode. Fingers crossed that they all find their feet but even if they don’t I’m kind of hoping to enjoy this season more than Summer and with some of these shows, even if they don’t end up being good they should be entertaining.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and I look forward to seeing what you follow for the season.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So far, this season is way stronger that Summer… (Though Summer ended up stronger than it looked at this point.) There’s a few that could go wrong, but more than that would have to do so to drag Fall down to Summer’s level.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I feel Girls last tour is, if anything, an atmospheric peace. I mentioned in my impression that I tend not to be so “wowed” by dissonance in themes and projected art style, so I guess you could say that I’m still slightly skeptical of the production. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, though; but I found that one scene with the sudden shift in tone strangely inappropriate. There was no need to introduce dramatic tension at that point, so I sometimes wonder if there will be a deeper plot other than the supposedly omnibus depiction of events.

    Either way, I agree. It definitely is a keeper. I’m just feeling strangely cautious with this title.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. But ‘peace’ flows so well with the themes of the show! A freudian slip? :)

      I can understand being cautious, been there myself with shows that like this one play with boundaries of genre and expectations.

      Liked by 1 person

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