Spring 2015: Part 1

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Yeah, I’m on break this season, but still want to maintain a sense of life on this blog.  I have been buried in my work and barely get to watch anime this season (serves me right for trying to do pulp serial stories xD), but I have (mostly) caught up on the first month of every series I think I’m going to want to sample this season. So here’s just a brief overview of what I’ve been watching, just to keep my opinion out there.

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Arslan Senki

There is a beautiful series in here, but it’s buried under all these layers of cliche.  Aside of the first episode that set up the conflict, the rest of the series has been one utterly predictable ride.  It’s difficult to judge it on this quite yet, but I hope that it becomes a bit less predictable with its arc. There’s great stuff in here. The character dynamics are very strong, and they all interplay off each other quite well, even if King Androgoras is a painful twit to listen to. Right now part of the problem is the emphasis on the slave culture of Pars.  It’s one of those audience problems.  We know slavery is wrong, and as a slave society Pars doesn’t, so it IS impressive to see Arslan reaching out of his cultural barriers.  But, because we know it is a foregone conclusion, there’s very little tension here.

For instance, in Episode 4 there’s that conversation between Arslan and the page boy.  The show emphasizes that Arslan is considering his position on slavery.  But without a struggle, without a principled examination that shows he’s standing up for that opinion, it feels like wasted time.  This is to say nothing of the battle we’ve seen which was 100% by-the-book cliche when it came to meta-plot, but the singular kill that Arslan makes was intensely human and riveting and quite suspenseful. Hopefully the show comes into its own before long, I really want to love this one.

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Kekkai Sensen

Probably the all around best in show for this season.  It feels like the show wants to focus in around a central plot, but that isn’t quite clear yet.  It feels kind of like Dexter in that regard.  An overarching theme for the season, but the individual episodes are stand alone.

In that regard it’s probably why things feel spread a little thin with the characters.  I’m sure each of them has great backstories and personalities to draw into focus soon, but we can’t DO that yet because, for instance, Chain is going to interweave that personality with one of the crime drama plots.  I dunno, just a prediction, but that’s how it feels as they try to introduce us to all the characters, yet never let us get to know them save a choice few so far.

I love Leo as a protagonist in general. He manages to pull off that down to earth tone without going completely overboard with the mewling and pitiful normalcy we usually get from these situations.

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Owari no Seraph

I loved the first episode of this show. It presented an intriguing situation that I don’t know if we’ve ever seen it before. Seeing 12 year olds play politics with vampire society was a particularly interesting bit of dynamic.

But fuck that, we need a school action series, damnit! So let’s just turn into Strike the Blood without nipple slips. What an utter waste of a fantastic start.

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Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha: ViVid

This show’s interesting, and a reasonable successor to the franchise.  So far it’s keeping the series themes quite well, and Vivio is a great successor to her moms. And, in true fashion, the TSAB is still the WORST police force in the universe.

The action is still quite strong, but if the original Nanoha was like Gundam, her daughter seems to be taking more to the Dragonball Z route of hand to hand macho punches.  Which is fine. I was never really into the weapon porn, myself, but it does feel somehow “lacking” compared to its predecessors.  But this is really made up by the fact combat is much more fast paced and dynamic.

The only flaw I could attribute the series is that Vivio is taken for granted as “Nanoha 2.0”, thus she lacks the vulnerable dimensions of her mother’s series.  This kind of has the Mary-Sue effect on Vivio as, I think so much of child-Nanoha was imprinted onto her, that no one actually bothered to think about her in a vacuum. So she has all these super special traits, like her eyes and heritage and adult form and even her device seems to be rather unique in the Midchilda world, but none of her mother’s learning curve or crisis mode to crack her out of her comfort zone. It’s still early, so this could yet improve. I hope it does because I’m starting to feel myself frustrated when the show transitions to Vivio over the other, more interesting characters.

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Plastic Memories

Like Arslan Senki, this is a show that has some great universe around it, but the screen is full of cliche and predictable trite. I don’t even so much mind the slice of life elements, but the science fiction ones the show tries to work in are just failing completely in being able to pull the wool over our eyes.

I really hope there’s an interesting twist down the road, because being able to recite the route of the metaplot from day 1 is probably the worst start.  Maybe I’m just the wrong audience, though, as it’s clear people love being fed the same thing over and over again.

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Knights of Sidonia: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki

The science fiction elements seem to be returning to the franchise, though this time they’re more on the genetic engineering side than the space exploration side.  We’re also getting far more space opera with Kobayashi, and I hope for some amazing theatrics in the coming episodes.

And damnit, Ochihai got to bang our Hoshijiro waifu.  He will not be forgiven this injustice!

Oh! A special note, the show seems to have enough budget that it finally reined in the episode recaps so that we don’t have to sit through seven minutes of the last episode. Good on you, show. Good on you.

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