Highlight: Winter 2016 anime season

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These are the stories of relationships so strong that they withstand the test of time, transcend destiny and overcome personal differences. Also, best anime mom of the year!

NaNoWriMo Camp is still going on but I suppose it’s time I spare a few thousands words for the long-awaited seasonal review.

This season, we have quite a number of continuations; we have another Monogatari Series installment right away, the second season of lovey dovy story Akagami no Shiraiyukihime, and the second season of the military fanatic GATE. There’s also a double-season show Heavy Object, which turns out to be better than anticipated, and the new comedy short Ooyasan wa Shishunki, which not only reminds me of Komori-san wa Kotewarenai but also features Komori cast as cameo. And, we have the second half of the much delayed God Eater anime.

Other than the flashes from the past, we have 5 brand new shows. I kinda expect Musaigen to be meh since Kyoto Animation flopped most of their anime last year, actually, more like they failed all of their releases because Kyoukai no Kanata the movie was very debatable. And, the highlight winner this season is, funny thing, a new show about flashes from the past.

Seasonal Selection

Show Expectation Rating
Boku dake ga Inai Machi Star Highlight (1)
Akagami no Shiraiyukihime season 2 Cash cow Highlight (2)
Koyomimonogatari Cash cow Decent
Ooyasan wa Shishunki! Star Decent
Haruchika Star Decent
Heavy Object Old dog Decent
Dimension W Star Decent
God Eater Question mark Mediocre
GATE season 2 Question mark Mediocre
Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm Question mark Trash
Musaigen no Phantom World Question mark Trash

Highlight: Boku dake ga Inai Machi (ERASED)

The top pick this season Boku dake ga Inai Machi. Frankly, I feel Akagami no Shiraiyukihime season 2  would fit the top pick better, by a large margin, but the series has already won highlight back in Summer 2015 so I’m putting it in runner-up position in favor of the new show this time.

So, about Boku dake ga Inai Machi…it’s a solid show, the visual is, of course, top-notch since A-1 Pictures is behind this show. Remember! Bones, A-1, Madhouse, ufotable and P.A Works are the studios to follow; they don’t mess up the visual aspect. Audio-wise, the music arrangements are exceptionally done, I can’t possibly complain there.

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I’ll just ignore the fact that he was NTR’d hard by a childhood friend who used to be a frigging trap!

I’ll be complaining elsewhere, let’s talk about the story instead. It’s nigh impossible to talk about the plot without spoilers, there are usually no spoilers in my reviews but let this be the special case, SPOILER ALERT!

The author is good at keeping the viewer’s suspension of disbelief, I have no problem with the entire Revival deal or the lack of concrete motive behind the murderer’s evil; nothing concrete beyond a psychopathic condition, of course.

When I evaluated the show a few weeks later, I realized a few flaws of the story. First and foremost, what happened to the kid and everyone Satoru had saved using his Revival for the past 15 years in the new reality that he had been in coma for 15 years? I guess, that means…rest in peace for them. Basically, he saved 3 lives and wasted a lot more lives plus his own as a result! Nameless mooks don’t matter much, I suppose?

Secondly, how did he survive the ice lake? Well, realistically speaking, given the scene, there was nobody around to save him immediately except, maybe, Yashiro with a turn of heart? Bahahaha, nope. Here comes the dilemma, if no one else was around, Satoru would be brain-dead long before anyone got him out, if someone was around, they would be the witness of an attempted murder and be damn Yashiro would not get away with it that easily. So which was it? Yes or no to people who saved Satoru? Yeti?

So, in a nutshell, the plot was full of holes in retrospect. But, I enjoyed the show while it lasted and I did not notice these flaws while I was watching the show. Therefore, the willing suspension of disbelief was maintained just nicely and because it did, I have no right to judge the story based on Fridge Logic. This review is, therefore, a positive criticism in favor of the author.

For those who are unclear what the theme is about, the theme is an exploration of interpersonal trust and belief. I mean, the protagonist unleashed a torrent of philosophical narrative on how saying “I believe in you” is unnecessary and likely to be a sign of distrust. Plus, the final punchline is “I never stopped believing” and before that we have the whole deal about “you don’t have to fight alone anymore” from Kenya. It can’t get frigging more obvious than this!

Runner-up: Akagami no Shiraiyukihime (Snow White with the Red hair) season 2

I absolutely love this show. Akagami no Shiraiyukihime is no doubt the classic of the classic romance done right. I’m not going to waste my time discussing the flawless visual and music of Studio Bones again. If anyone were interested in my opinion on these aspects, please refer to Summer 2015 review.

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Atta boy! She’s feeling it!

I’m very pleased to say that the second season lived up to its expectation. The guys at Bones were still abusing Lens flare filter as always. The songs were the same as the first season albeit the OP and ED sequences were new. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it eh? I kinda have go agree with them in this case.

About the story and characters, which is the strong point of the show last season, this season most characters were fleshed out even more. Prince of Tanbarum, Prince Raj, got his own story arc with Shiraiyuki and some degree of character development. Obi got on a short heist with his old street-mate. Mitsuhide and Kiki received a flashback when they first met and each got an entire episode to develop the character.

More importantly, the main couple were ready to for the next step. Yup, hint! Hint! It’s marriage! And, she got the approval from her dad. Parental approval, checked! Romantic confession and acceptance, checked! Smooching, checked! Sexually smooching her neck…errr, I’m not sure this is that kind of show but…CHECKED, LOVE IT!

I love how the author kept dodging meaningless cliché; no mood-killing comedy, no fanservice, no gender trap, no incurable disease trick, no dramatic farewell and no harem crap in Akagami no Shiraiyukihime! This is 100% wholesome classic romance of natural progression by God’s approval.

The ending was open-ended. Will there be a third season? A sequel? I doubt there will be, judging from the “Fin” card, but one cannot help but hoping.

Extra: Heavy Object & GATE

The entire show might be a failure but one good moment can save the day.

The scene at 15:00 in Heavy Object episode 19 got me shudder in anger every time by the sheer powerlessness and the realization of how ugly, cruel and treacherous mankind can be. Also, mother of god that sound effect and filler music is so fitting!

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Surprise feel! I don’t remember signing up for feel-team-six…

Within 2 minutes 41 seconds, Heavy Object successfully evoked terror, powerlessness, anger, sadness, disbelief, betrayal, relief, hope, joy and determination. In other words, the single most emotional anime scene that’s not from a tear-jerker. I can’t recommend the show as a whole but I can recommend that one scene in episode 19 and the rest of the season. It’s a must-watch!

Meanwhile, GATE could have been a great story in the theme of humanitarian in war as hinted in the similarly emotional rescue scene in episode 14 but it rejected its potential and turned into a military circle-jerker. Good for eye-candy and propaganda purposes but (saved that one scene) trashy otherwise.

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But yo! That slave outfit is hotter than Nocturnal clothes in Skyrim! I’m giving GATE the Mediocre rating for this.
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fujihita

Self-learner, designer, author and programmer.

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