My Look at the Spring 2018 Season

(Note: I expected this to come out in mid-April, not mid-May, so… whoops! Better late than never though!)

It’s the middle of April, but as I look outside, there’s more snow than you can even believe. This is spring, isn’t it? Where’s the butterflies? The colorful flowers? The constant rain storms that make the ground all soggy and the sidewalks all slippery? I don’t know, but they aren’t here!

One thing to enjoy about spring though: the new anime season! For this season, I’ll only be looking at a handful of shows, for a few reasons:

  1. There’s a lot of sequels this season. There’s a lot of sequels every season, but it feels like a lot this time. There’s not much point of me watching the sequel if I haven’t seen the season prior, so almost all of them, I’m not watching.
  2. Beyond that, a number of the new (non-sequel) shows don’t seem all that interesting. I’ve picked out the ones that did catch my eye, and I also checked out some that other people have been talking about. Beyond that, though… everything else seems meh.
  3. I don’t really trust Tokyo Ghoul Re to be any good. I really don’t.

Anyway, all of that out of the way, let’s get to reviewing:

Steins;Gate 0

26cab01d95a04956bd5a1a2994d231ea1523422286_fullDespite my talk about sequels above, this is one sequel where I’ve seen the show immediately prior to it. So, this ends up with the title of the only sequel I can/will touch here and now.

Steins;Gate 0 takes place in the winter after the events of the first anime. It’s on a separate timeline from the very last episode, where Rintaro decided to walk away from time travel rather than using it one last time (trying to be vague to avoid spoilers). As you’d expect, the sequel definitely demands that you have seen the first show, and it doesn’t give any time at all (beyond some blink-and-you’ll-miss-it flashbacks) to refresh viewers on the show either. If it’s been a while since you’ve seen Steins;Gate, you’ll probably be a bit confused.

For me, this also isn’t helped by the fact that I’ve grown very accustomed to the English dub of the first series. The Japanese voices aren’t too bad (with the exception of Daru), I guess… but it doesn’t sound/feel the same.

Anyway… Three episodes in, I’m quite enjoying Steins;Gate 0. It has the same tone, art style, and character designs from the original anime. It proves to be an interesting premise about how this alternate-timeline Rintaro is dealing with the outcome of his decision to walk away. (Again, trying to be vague.) My biggest concern, though, is that the original Steins;Gate was a slower-paced, atmosphere-heavy, and character-heavy show… and this sequel seems more willing to move more quickly, and to push aside almost everyone to focus on Rintaro and a new cast member named Maho.

Part of it may be the fact that this is airing in Japan as a direct continuation from the original. I also wonder if they’re doing this as a 12/13 episode series, as having it be 24-to-26 would allow them to slow down a bit more, I’d think. Either way, only time will tell to see how it all turns out, and I am excited to see where this goes.

Megalobox

75c8ff7a84bac94f275d2a1c0c8f05601522906376_fullI went into this not knowing what to expect; the name sounded cool and it being an original anime helps too. I was curious about it and honestly, even after the first episode, I was hooked.

Megalobox takes place in some sort of post-apocalyptic Japan, but with this major 1970s punk vibe. Junk Dog, our main character, is an underground boxer with no legal ID; he and his mentor Nanbu stay out of debt by agreeing to throw matches and manipulate bets. Boxing here is done with special equipment called “Gear” strapped onto your arms and back (which helps add more power to their punches). After a run-in with the world champion Megalobox fighter, Yuri, and the businesswoman financing the worldwide Megalomania competition, JD decides he wants in. With a forged ID and the name “Joe”, he enters Megalomania and aims for the top.

This show is gritty, well-paced, dramatic, dark, and keeps you engaged from start to finish. Everything has this hand-drawn vibe to it, the lines don’t have that particular look of having been touched by computer animation (even though it probably has been). The music is also awesome. This show is actually a celebration for the 50th anniversary of the anime Ashita no Joe, but you don’t need to have seen that show to watch this one.

And, please, do watch this one. Whether you’re all about action or you like some drama, Megalobox has a lot here going for you. I’m loving this show, and I think you will too.

Persona 5 the Animation

1ac5964acca6075b83c1dd8329ce76661523323666_fullMy feelings about Persona 5 aren’t easily explained, but it’s best summed up as “I like some parts, and dislike others”. Unfortunately, the game’s story was one of those dislikes, but it won’t stop me from giving the anime a shot.

Visuals and aesthetics wise, the anime feels very much like the game, featuring screens, animations, and transitions that were present in it. Indeed, it feels like they cut them straight out of the game and lifted them into the anime. It’s impressive.

Unfortunately for the anime, it also feels like they cut the story beats straight out of the game and lifted them into the anime. Things move along at a bit too fast of a pace, things only ever seem surface-level, and they seem content with just mentioning the main points and moving on. It’s difficult to take a video game (where you yourself can control the pace) and implement it into a non-interactive medium, but Persona 5 the Animation feels like a clip show rather than an actual animated retelling of the story. I wish there was more expressiveness, or they at least let scenes stay their welcome. I will certainly commend them, though, for sticking extremely faithful to the story thus far.

Ultimately, the anime’s goal is to get more people interested in the game and playing it. Or, at least, that’s what I assume its goal is, because I, as a fan of Persona, feel underwhelmed by what we’ve gotten here. I probably won’t be continuing with this show.

Magical Girl Ore

3c7c9222cfa33e21bdcae187bdd007591521854044_fullI knew the basic idea of this show was about magical girls that transformed into muscular boys in their magical form. … What I did not know was how far they’d go to take the idea of magical girls and knock on its side.

Magical Girl Ore is the story about a young duo named Saki and Sakuyo who are trying to form an idol group but happen to just be terrible at it. Due to the power of love triangles, Saki and Sakuyo realize they can turn into “magical girls”… which are more like magical boys. They use their magical boy-girl forms to defeat demons and to protect each other and protect Sakuyo’s brother, Mohiro, who’s part of a much more successful male idol duo.

This anime enjoys doing everything out of the ordinary. The “mascot” character looks like a yakuza boss, the leads themselves look like overly-muscular guys in cute magical girl outfits, the demons they fight are these muscular humanoids with cute faces, and they fight them by literally punching/beating them to death. It plays on even more tropes as well (such as the “running to school late with toast in your mouth”) and also manages to do this all with a bright color palette and more expressiveness than you’d ever expect. It’s a magical girl show that’s also a comedy and is just full of contradictions.

This show is weird. But probably in a good way. I’d recommend giving it a look, I plan on sticking with this myself.

Umamusume

11d01819ab5ca0f94ebdbc1f82f345181525472777_fullI’ll be honest. I only looked at this series because it seemed the most-talked about new anime of this season. I came into it expecting myself to not like it. I know it’s not a great way to come into a show, but here we are. And the end result is… it’s surprisingly pretty okay.

Umamusume seems to be a cross between a slice of life anime and a sports anime, with a sprinkle of idol and fantasy animes for good measure. It’s the story of Special Week, a horse-girl whose mom got her enrolled in the most prestigious horse-racing academy in Japan, Tracen Academy. Upon arriving at the campus, she came across the most famous horse-girl in Japan, Silence Suzuka, winning yet another championship. Special Week became inspired and vowed to join the same horse-racing team as Silence Suzuka, so that she too can become among the best racing horse-girls in Japan!

To me, this show seems like a strange concept (although a lot of anime is just a strange concept taken to its extreme), but it seems to be delivering upon it fairly well. Special Week, although perhaps a bit too ditzy or naïve, seems interesting enough on her own, and I enjoy a number of her friends. That being said, I quite despise the character Trainer (seemingly the only male character in this show). They say first impressions are important, and my impressions of him were nothing good. I’m honestly over creepy/pervy male characters in anime.

All in all though, like I said, it’s a pretty okay show. I’d suggest finding someone else to tell you if Umamusume’s worth your time, but I won’t say it’s not. I expected it to be bad, and I came out pleasantly surprised, but not surprised enough to want to stick with it. But if it piques your interest, go for it!

Crossing Time

0a87bda81e1bf231e22dbece79f5eb411523241970_fullI’m adding onto my plate, once again, a short-length show. I get a real kick out of them, but short-length anime are really only the side dishes for the main course meal that is the full-length shows I’ve reviewed above.

Crossing Time operates on a simple premise: two people are stuck at a railroad crossing waiting for a train to pass, what happens next? Each episode features two different people having different conversations and different relationships (classmates, senpai/kouhei, teacher/student, etc.). The anime had a surprisingly emotion-filled first episode (and it saddened me that we probably won’t see those girls again), but I believe it to be a comedy show. The 3-minute length usually leads to a quick turnaround from setup to punchline, which is effective.

This show proves to be an interesting one, and I’ll be keeping it around on my watch list. It won’t be the funniest or most serious thing you see, but like I said, it’s a side dish, for those times the main course just isn’t enough to fill us up.

Wrap-Up

This season doesn’t stand out to me as one of the best, but there’s still certainly things to enjoy.

I think my biggest problem, personally, is I don’t have much time to devote to watching the current shows, since I have other projects and things to take up my time, in addition to working. Beyond this list, there may be a few other shows that I could push myself to try, but I’d say 3 shows is enough for me (along with 1 short-length one) right now.

What shows have you enjoyed thus far this season? Any thoughts you have so far? Let me know below! I honestly was a bit surprised by how underwhelmed I was by Persona 5 the Animation, I was expecting myself to stick with that one.

Anyway, until next time, talk to you later!