My Look at the Winter 2018 Season

I’ve done this once before, so why not do it again? Funnily enough, the last time I did it was for the winter season last year… I doubt I’ll end up doing this for every new season, but I wonder if this will really end up being only a winter season thing lol.

So my life has changed a lot since last winter. Free time is something I have a lot more of now, and I actually feel motivated and interested in anime again. It’s been quite a while since I’ve actually felt interested in anime, and it’s kind of refreshing.

Anyway, we’re not here to be sentimental! Let’s get down to the shows!

Pop Team Epic1768802a0cdfbcf8842dc17e39b06d381511957656_large

This show is something I’ve heard about long before its airing; images of the manga are relatively easy to find online, featuring the simply-drawn main characters sporting some highly-detailed middle fingers. So coming into this season, I was at least curious how the anime was going to go.

My verdict: the anime is actually quite a bit of fun. It’s a sketch comedy show, but you never quite know what you’re gonna get with each new sketch. The first (and 3rd) episode featured a sketch taking place in France, introduced by some random French animator, all done entirely in French. A number of sketches poke fun at the anime industry and anime production itself, but beyond that, there’s other sketches that are just the two main characters, Pipimi and Popuko, screwing around with each other.

All in all, I think it’s really enjoyable. The comedy pacing is really good, and the show just keeps them coming and doesn’t stop. This anime is being called the “shitposting” anime online, and it probably isn’t an untrue statement; in reality, though, this is an adaptation of a parody 4-koma manga (meaning, every “story” is told in just four panels).

The show probably won’t win in the visuals department, but it’s good enough to get across what they need to. (Also, some sections are intentionally drawn really bad). The opening theme (shown from episode 2 onwards) is really cool sounding and the animation is great; the ending theme and animation are both okay.

I only see a few downsides to this show. Firstly, the running joke where each episode is the same thing twice – only with different voice actors and slightly different lines – is gonna get old pretty quickly, I think. In fact, I think it’s already pretty old by episode 2. It was a fun gag for the first episode, but, I am tempted to just turn off each new episode after the halfway point. Secondly, I really wish there were more long segments/sketches. Obviously they’re limited with how far they can stretch the source material, but so much of each episode is just seconds-long sketches, and it’s… I dunno… hard to keep your enthusiasm? I’m failing to describe it properly at the moment.

Gripes aside, this is a lot of fun, and I’ll certainly be continuing with it for this season. I suggest you try it out too!

Karakai Jozu no Takagi-san89990

This anime, I’ve seen going by a number of English names, such as “Skilled Teaser Takagi-san” and “Takagi-san, the Master of Teasing”. I saw this show mentioned on Twitter (I forget by who), and I decided to take a look.

As you can kind of guess by the English title, this show is about a girl named Takagi and a guy named Nishikata – Takagi is really good at teasing Nishikata, and oppositely, his attempts to get back at her fail spectacularly every time. Each episode is divided up into segments, also sketch-comedy style; the premise of the show is pretty much established in the first segment of the first episode, and it’s stays just like that for the rest of the runtime – excepting the few moments where you see hints of an actual friendship between these two, which the show likes to throw to you every now and then.

It’s hard to call this show really entertaining, particularly because its central joke is pretty repetitive: Nishikata tries to do something to tease Takagi and gets out-teased by the master, or master Takagi sets up Nishikata to be teased and he overthinks it. It’s fun as something to just have on and relax to, though; it’s not going to wow you in any regard, but it’s easy to digest and it helps distract your brain for a little while.

I do wish we had more moments with these two actually being friends without all this teasing thing going on, but I think those rare appearances are all we’re gonna get every episode. It’s a bit of a different dynamic if you look at it as two friends teasing and playing around with each other, rather than as one classmate who decided to pick on the other and it delving into a competition.

We’ll see how the rest of the series goes, though. I’ll be sticking around for this one.

Darling in the Franxxb6e8676f48c62513e4ae065395b2d0c61499270624_full

At Studio Trigger’s panel at AX2017, this is one of the shows that they announced, being done as a co-production with A-1 Pictures. Having recently finished Kill La Kill and already being a big fan of Space Patrol Luluco, I was certainly interested to see what would come of this.

In a post-apocalyptic world, humanity has been ravaged by these giant beasts called klaxosaurs. They’ve concentrated themselves into these city-sized domes called Plantations, where they train special kids in boy-girl pairs to be able to pilot these giant mechas called Franxx, which can be used to beat back the klaxosaurs. Our main characters here seem to be Zero Two, an outsider who’s a bit of a wild child, and Hiro, a boy who felt like a bird with clipped wings.

But that’s all the information I can really tell ya. We’ve established (to some extent) what the world is… but where are these characters going from here? What’s the point of any of this? I feel this is one of those slow-start plots where things will ramp up later, but it’s weird coming into this from Kill La Kill where everything you needed to know was established by the end of episode 1.

Combine with this the fact that I’m not liking the character Zorome (who Hiro is currently battling against), the fact that the Franxx are controlled by the guys who hold handles that stick out of the girls’ butts (seemingly just to make a suggestive-looking pose), the fact that the main character looks super plain and doesn’t really have that engaging a personality, and the fact that I’m getting some Aldnoah.Zero-esque vibes out of this show… I think I’m gonna sit this one out. I’ll be listening to see what others say about this show as it keeps going, though.

Despite this being touted as a collaboration between Trigger and A-1 Pictures, I really wonder how involved Trigger actually is with this show. I suppose that without reading the Japanese credits and learning more about what company is filling what roles, though, I won’t know for sure. This feels very much like an A-1 Pictures-esque show (as meaningless as that is to say, though, because anime studios are commonly not the ones that direct the course of a show).

Mitchiri Nekodf36a4d78ce8b599d40f325e7cc7349d1514516525_full

Do you remember that video/GIF that’s gone around featuring a bunch of cats in a marching band? If you don’t remember or haven’t seen it, feast your eyeballs on this adorableness! Anyway, so that’s an anime now. (Actually, it’s been a manga since 2012…)

This show is, oh my gosh, another sketch comedy. Instead of two main characters, though, our cast is a bunch of cats – although a few of them do get named and short descriptions. The sketches in the comedies are relatively simply affairs, like cats getting their head stuck in a box, or a bunch of them finding a pot to fit themselves into (it’s actually surprising how many bags/pots/balls full of cats there are here).

When you get right down to it, it’s simple, it’s adorable, it’s colorful. It’s probably aimed at kids, but that wouldn’t stop an older audience from enjoying it as well. Each episode is only 3 minutes each so it’s a pretty easy thing to get through either way.

A Place Further Than the Universed2ba2e4ecb30e63da5ab3751116eec561510960628_full

I first heard about this show as “the girls going to Antarctica anime”, and it didn’t really pique my interest. I felt that it’d be a slice-of-life anime where cutesy girls just screwed around in Antarctica, playing down any downsides and promoting the upsides.

A Place Further Than the Universe, though, is more like a drama anime. Yes, all the main characters are girls, and they’re as energetic and cute as they come, but this isn’t a slice-of-life show.

Our first main characters are Shirase and Kimari. Shirase is the daughter of an Antarctic expedition member, and has wanted to travel to the continent herself to try to find her mother, despite receiving backlash and ridicule from those around her. Kimari has felt like she hasn’t been taking advantage of the life she’s been given, following through the paces of going to school and home each day without ever doing anything spontaneous or incredible. They’re quickly joined by two more girls: Hinata, who’s gung-ho and charismatic, and Yuzuki, a child actress who’s always felt alone. The four of them don’t even start as friends (as they admit in episode 3), but have instead bonded over their mutual desire to travel to Antarctica.

It’s hard to describe the feelings this show gives you. As someone who came into this sure that I wasn’t going to like it, I have to really stress how much the show got me to turn that opinion around. The plot goes through its process of ups and downs, the downs making those ups feel all that more exciting; you get engaged, excited when at least one small thing goes these characters’ way, and feeling worrisome when it seems their plan is falling apart. Tie this together with some amazing visuals and a nice sense of comedic timing, and all in all, this show is just a fun ride.

I’m for sure sticking with this anime, and I recommend you try out the first two episodes to see if this is an adventure you’ll want to embark on as well.

Slow Startdgc8dgdxcae3svl

I honestly can’t remember where I heard about this show. Probably from Twitter. Either way, here we are.

Slow Start is basically your standard slice-of-life. Our main character is Hana, who took a year off from school because she was sick. She entered into an all-girls high school not knowing anyone, but pretty quickly found herself three friends: Tama, the energetic girl; Eiko, the reasonable motherly girl; and Kamu, the short and always hungry girl.

As far as slice-of-life shows go, this one’s pretty alright. Slice-of-life shows at this point need something to make them stand out, and for this show, it’s the fact that Hana was out of school for a year. It leads to a lot of misconceptions and Hana telling a lot of white lies because she’s embarrassed to say she’s been out a year. Beyond that, though, this all takes place in an average Japanese high school with the students doing relatively average things. If you compare it to slice-of-life shows like GJ Club or Non Non Biyori, honestly, it’s hard to find anything that really makes this one remarkable. Viewed completely on its own, though, this show is still fun and provides that slice-of-life feel.

The character designs are fine enough, although each girls’ eyes look like something out of 2006’s Windows Media Player. But my goodness, nothing in this anime ever seems to sit still. Characters are always moving, swaying, or doing something. (To be honest, saying “always” is probably a bit of an exaggeration, but still…) The opening and ending themes are both pretty okay, in regards to both song selection and animation quality.

I’ll probably keep this one around, simply because I haven’t jumped into any slice-of-life shows recently. This one isn’t a particularly standout show, but it still isn’t bad.

Citrusdo8lc60ueaa6pfd

This is another one I’ve heard about through Twitter (as will the last show I look at). Specifically, I’ve seen it mentioned due to the fact that it’s a yuri show, and I follow someone on Twitter who’s a particular fan of yuri shows.

Citrus focuses around two girls, Yuzu and Mei. After Yuzu’s mom got remarried, her and Yuzu moved to a new city and Yuzu entered into a new high school. There, after a public argument with a student council member for not following the dress code, Yuzu is introduced to Mei, the student council president, and the two start off on the wrong foot. … Although they’ll have a lot of time to make things better because, as it turns out, Yuzu’s mom married Mei’s dad, making them now step-sisters!

To be honest, the first episode rubbed me the wrong way. From the starting conversation where Yuzu and her old friends were comparing guys and talking about having dumped them, to Yuzu’s confrontation with the student council leading up to Mei feeling her up (in public!) to find her cell phone and take it, to Yuzu stumbling across her homeroom teacher kissing Mei behind a school building, to the highly-awkward interactions between Yuzu and Mei in the bedroom they ended up sharing, leading up to Mei pushing Yuzu over, forcing her into a deep kiss, and then getting up and leaving the room. Episode over.

I don’t have anything against yuri shows. I’m a big fan of Sakura Trick – in that one too, it features multiple characters kissing each other, but the difference is that Sakura Trick establishes these characters as already being friends and having consented to it. In this show, it was pretty much a near-total stranger that forced Yuzu to the ground and kissed her, without being asked “is this okay to do?”

I’ll stop short of calling this a bad show, though. The backgrounds and camera work in this first episode are nice-looking, and remind me of Studio Shaft. But nice visuals won’t make up for how uncomfortable I feel watching it. Sorry, but I’m not going to keep going with this one.

Laid Back Camp5ac5fff410cb66c57ce0d2ea2617d08d1515076527_full

Hey look, another show I heard about through Twitter. Crunchyroll’s Twitter account mentions this one a lot (along with A Place Further Than The Universe), so I decided, okay, let’s take a look.

Laid Back Camp is an anime about camping… and it’s laid back. Yep, that’s all the description you need, alright, good bye!

Okay, to be more specific, Laid Back Camp is about a group of five girls who end up going out and camping together. Our main character seems to be a short girl named Rin, who enjoys just going out and camping by herself, but she ends up becoming a friend to a girl named Nadeshiko, who jumps in head-first into this camping thing with much enthusiasm. The group is rounded out by Chiaki and Aoi, president and vice president of the Outdoor Activities Club, and Saitou, Rin’s friend who brought them all together.

This is a pretty relaxing show. The slow pacing while Rin is out camping somewhere, just sitting, enjoying the scenery and stuff… it’s nice. The show has its energetic moments too, especially where Nadeshiko is involved, but it’s overall a slow and enjoyable ride. The backgrounds are also amazingly done, and the opening credits are done in English, amusingly enough (the opening theme song is also my second favorite of this season, behind Pop Team Epic).

I’ll be sticking with this one as well, although I do feel it may fall to the wayside as I have so many shows to attend to.

Honorable Mentions

I’ve sat here and gone through eight different shows here, but there may be some names you’re surprised to not see on here. So let’s run through them:

Violet Evergarden – Trust me, I want to watch this so badly. I really do. But unfortunately, Netflix isn’t simulcasting this show here in the US, like it is in many other countries around the world (including Canada!). It disappoints me, because lack of simulcasting is pretty much the biggest complaint I think a lot of people have with Netflix, but at least most other people in the world get to enjoy it weekly. I will be watching it once it comes out on Netflix here!

Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card – I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m still a relatively new fan to anime. The first show I watched was the original FMA, back in 2012. It’s been a bit over 5 years for me, and there’s a lot of classic shows that I haven’t yet gotten around to (if I ever will). Cardcaptor Sakura is one of those.

The Ancient Magus’ Bride  – This is a show that has been recommended to me. However, I’m not going to delve into it just yet… besides, it didn’t even start airing this season; this is the second cour, as it began airing last season. Hard to count that on this list.

Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles – This is like the last show I’ve heard mentioned a lot for this season. It doesn’t seem like a bad show, but given how I already have about 6 I’m already planning to watch this season, I think my plate’s a bit full right now. This may be one of the ones I return to later on down the line!

Wrap-Up

So that’s my thoughts on a number of shows this season. What do you think about them? Are there any that I haven’t mentioned that are worth checking out? Do you have different opinions on the shows I’ve talked about here? The comment section below is open and it’s hungry for people’s words! So please don’t keep it starving!

Anyway, my next review is coming up this Friday as well! And then starting next week is Funimation February! See you all then!

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