Tag Archives: Winter 2016 Season

Musaigen no Phantom World Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

In the near future, in a world born of human imagination, what humans would call ghosts or monsters appear, and they come to be called “phantoms.” Haruhiko Ichijō, is a first year at Hosea Academy along with his upperclassman Mai Kawakami, who fights phantoms with the ability “Spirit of Five Elements,” Reina Izumi, who has the ability “Phantom Eater,” and Koito Minase, who fights phantoms in solitude. They experience the ups and downs of high school life before a certain incident leads them to the truth of this world. ~ANN


 

Animation Production: Kyoto Animation ( Amagi Brilliant Park, Free!K-On!Chūnibyō demo Koi ga Shitai!, Figure 17Full Metal Panic!, Hibike! EuphoniumHyōkaKanon, Kyoukai no Kanata, Lucky StarNichijoSora o Miageru Shōjo no Hitomi ni Utsuru SekaiTamako Market)

Director: Tatsuya Ishihara ( Director on Air / Director on Chūnibyō demo Koi ga Shitai! / Episode Director on Fushigi Yugi episode 19 / Chief Director and Storyboard on Haruhi Suzumiya film and TV series / Director on Nichijo  / Director on Hibike! Euphonium / Storyboard and Episode Director on Tenchi Universe episodes 3, 8, 13 and 23)

Series Composition: Fumihiko Shimo ( Series Composition on AirAria the Scarlett Ammo Double AClannadMelancholy of Haruhi SuzumiyaKokoro Connect, and most of Kyoto Animation and Ishihara’s directorial projects)

Character Designer:  Kazumi Ikeda ( Animation Director on Air episodes 2, 5 and 8 / Animation Director on Amagi Brilliant Park episodes 5 and 11 / Character Designer and Chief Animation Director on Clannad / Key Animator on Free! ending sequence / Character Designer on Chūnibyō demo Koi ga Shitai! / Animation Director on Hibike! Euphonium)

Music: EFFY ( Wrote insert song arrangements for Cross AngeMagical Girl Lyrical Nanoha the Movie 2nd A’s and No-Rin)

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Ichirou Miyoshi ( Episode Director and Storyboard on Air episode 11 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid episodes 4 and 12 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Gate Keepers 21 / Storyboard and Episode Director on K-On! season 2 episode 4)

Storyboards: Yasuhiro Takemoto ( Director on Amagi Brilliant Park / Key Animator and Storyboard on Amagi Brilliant Park ending sequence / Storyboard and Director on Amagi Brilliant Park opening and ending sequences / Storyboards on Kaze no Yojimbo episodes 4 and 22 / Storyboards and Episode Director on Kyoukai no Kanata episodes 2, 4 and 10)

Script: Fumihiko Shimo ( Script Writer on Amagi Brilliant Park episodes 1, 2, 8, 11 and 13)


Typical Kyoto Animation.  They produce about one series a season and it’s all in-house staff.  Character Designs, backgrounds, musical style, color designs every aspect of this show seems to me a lot cheaper to do with an average budget. I like how visually imaginative this show is but for realism purposes I can’t continue it because it does not make sense.  If our brains were altered we could possibly see pixie girls and giant monsters?

Optical illusions play a big part of this show and it was a good choice to use Kyoto Animation for this premise.  However, it’s not straying away from their usual works.  Adaptation from light novel material with a large amount of fanservice and moe.  Apart from the beautiful animation and top notch sequences by Kyoto’s in-house animators Taichi Ishidate, Shinpei Sawa and Kouhei Nakahara we just have a generic Kyoto Animation fanservice fluff show. Boring.  Please do something more interesting.

This was a step-down from what they’ve delivered in previous years with Hyoka, Haruhi Suzumiya and Air.  The definite killer for me in this was Mai Kawakami’s breasts becoming a major plot point and resolution to the totem poles situation.  What?  At least the 16-bit style was a cool addition that’s out of the norm for Kyoto Animation. I don’t have a valid reason to watch this show other than for its animation.


 

OP: “Naked Dive” by SCREEN mode

Directed by: Tatsuya Ishihara

Storyboards: Tatsuya Ishihara

Animation Supervisor: Kazumi Ikeda ( Key Animator on Naruto episode 55)

Generic J-Rock that has a style similar to the artist Mell. The animation cuts and transitions aren’t good as it focuses more on fanservice rather than being original.  Cookie cutter character designs.  Come on Kyoto! Branch out more! I will say this. If there’s a studio saving the industry in getting otaku to purchase their products it’s Kyoto Animation and SHAFT studios.  It’s like I’ve mentioned before sometimes you have to be more visually appealing than have a decent story however this studio does the same stuff way too often.  This opening clearly indicates that.

ED: “Junshin Always” (純真Always; Innocence Always) by Azusa Tadokoro

Directed by: Yasuhiro Takemoto ( Director and Storyboards on Amagi Brilliant Park opening and ending sequences)

Storyboards: Yasuhiro Takemoto

Animation Supervisor: Kazumi Ikeda

Japanese Seiyuu with two series this season–Divine Gate’s Bedivere and this anime’s Ruru.  It’s not a big surprise that they used a seiyuu to do the ending song for this. Just like the opening this was generic.  Mostly with Ruru flying.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 4/10

 

Sekkō Boys Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

A unit of four stone figures — the military saint and group leader Saint Giorgio, history’s original celebrity Medici, the strikingly handsome and multi-talented Hermes, and the god of war Mars who is earnest about love — who become idiosyncratic idols. The story depicts their efforts to make it in the entertainment world with their female manager Miki Ishimoto, who just graduated from college. ~ANN


 

Animation Production: LIDEN FILMS ( Arslan SenkiMiss MonochromeSchwarzesmarken,  Senyu, Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo)

Director: Tomoki Takuno ( Storyboards and Episode Director on Sora o Kakeru Shōjo / Series Director on Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo / Episode Director on Zegapain episode 12)

Series Composition: Michiko Yokote ( Script Writer on Ah! My Goddess: The Movie / Script Writer on BLEACH series / Script Writer on Dagashi Kashi / Series Composition on Nabari no Ou / Script Writer on Ranma 1/2 seasons 3-7 / Series Composition on Shirobako / Screenplay on You’re Under Arrest tv series and OAV)

Character Designer: Eriko ITO ( Character Designer on Ane Log OAV 2 / Character Designer on Danchigai / Animation Director on Hanasaku Iroha TV series and film / Chief Animation Director on Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo)

Music: Masuda Moveman

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Tomoki Takuno

Storyboards: Michiko Yokote

Script: Michiko Yokote


If there’s a good way to handle pacing of an 8-minute long episode this is the way to do it.  This series works perfect for being a short! Miki Ishimoto is a girl with the desire to manage an idol group.  She’s passionate, she’s aggressive and also has a knack for getting herself into troublesome situations hence the buildup to her journey through art school and grief with statues.  Insert the amusing injuries trope and the idea that she’s going to manage four pretty boys and we’ve got nice setup to a solid adult comedy series.   The leader of the boy band group Saint Gigorgio (Sugita Tomokazu) has a calm personality and matches Mars, Hermes and Medici pretty well.  The hilarity is right out in the open during their introduction– “these guys have firm morales”.  Fantastic!

There’s a lot to enjoy about a reverse-harem idol series, Sekko Boys forces this genre down our throats from the get-go and completely dismantles it with statues!  The animators even took note the importance of statues and made sure they didn’t look too cartoony.  Their mouths never even move when they talk!  I really like how quick-paced Miki’s backstory was–it’s important in understanding her passion for art however this was just a side-piece.  The overlooked transitions and quick narration were to build up the fact that she will be working with statues again.

I really like how bland the background designs are, especially during her art school segment.  It makes the characters in this series become more alive.  The insert song during that scene was amazing–very alluring vocals. where has this band come from?  Electronic trance music is certainly an interesting choice for Sekko Boys.  This series is so ridiculous I don’t think I could handle 25 minutes of it.  A prime example of short and sweet!


ED: “Hoshizora Rendezvous” (星空ランデブー; Starry Sky Rendezvous) by Sekkō Boys

Directed by: Fumiaki Usui

Storyboards: Tomoki Takuno

Animation Supervisor: Ryoko Amisaki & Shiho Hayashi

The lyrics were written by the Yuri Kuma Arashi opening sequence band Bonjour Suzuki.  This has that odd and ambitious feeling that opening had.  Smart to not put in an opening sequence yet as this show needs every bit of time to get the story across.  Very catchy song that has a very electro beat to it.  Masuda Moveman is breaking out on the scene with this anime and have only released a few songs prior to this on Soundcloud which you can find here.  It sounds similar to Bay City Rollers’ 1976 hit Saturday Night. Which you can check out below:

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 7/10

 

Haruchika: Haruto to Chika wa Seishun Suru Episode 1 (Initial Impressions)

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Haruta and Chika are members of their high school wind instrument club that is on the verge of being shut down. The two are childhood friends, and they spend their days practicing hard while also trying to recruit new members. When a certain incident happens within their school, they work together to solve it. ~ANN

Animation Production: P.A. Works ( Angel Beats!CANAANHanasaku IrohaShirobakoTrue TearsTari TariNagi no Asukara)

Director: Masakazu Hashimoto ( Episode Director on Hanasaku Iroha episode 13 / Episode Director on Immortal Grand Prix 2 episodes 4, 8, 10, 15, 17, 19, 22 and 24 / Director on Soul Eater NOT!)

Series Composition: Reiko Yoshida ( Screenplay Writer on Aria the Avyenire OAV / Script Writer on Ao No Exorcist The Movie / Series Composition on Chu-Bra!! / Script Writer on Genshiken episode 2)

Character Designer:  Asako Nishida ( Character Designer on Active Raid / Character Designer on Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko / Animation Director on Fate/Stay Night (2005) / Character Designer on Moryo no Hako / Character Designer and Chief Animation Director on Simoun)

Music: Shiroh Hamaguchi ( Music Composer on Ah! My Goddess TV and film / Music Composer on Galilei Donna / Music Composer and Orchestra Conductor on Final Fantasy VII Advent Children / Music Composer on Shirobako / Music Composer on Tari Tari)

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Atsuko Ishizuka

Storyboards: Atsuko Ishizuka

Script: Taku Kishimoto


We’ve seen school-based mystery and music themed series before. Both of which were a part of Kyoto Animation’s works– Hibike! Euphonium and Hyouka.  I enjoyed Hyouka and am still getting through Hibike but I have to say I get the feeling this won’t be a great show.  Coming from the same director of Tari Tari no less it would surprise me if this turns out to be anything spectacular.  Take Chika Homura for example, she’s a kawaii tenth grader eager to join the school band club.  Her character is very annoying.  From the get-go I wasn’t too enthusiastic about this show being animated by P.A. Works simply because this is supposed to be a deep mystery series and in this first episode we’re getting  a girl trying her hardest to be cute for her teacher.  The first half was your typical backstory–Chika has always wanted to be in concert band and it did develop her character but from the moment the teacher stepped into the picture its as if the writer forgot about her development.

I really can’t quite grasp why P.A. Works couldn’t step out of their element here and do something different.  Be a bit more faithful to the novels.  The artwork in those were incredible and I can’t see why Asako Nishida couldn’t design characters that looked older.  The only good part from this guy’s career was his designs on Moryo no Hako.  This show needs to step it up.  This entire episode screams impressionism.  Similar to Kyoto Animation, P.A. Works is another studio that you can tell from the first scene that it’s their work.  Brightly lit backgrounds, beautiful childlike characters (even some of the adults in the series that should be 50-something look 18 to 30).

The only part of this that breaks the norm is the other lead Haruta Kamijo is gay and also in love with the band teacher.

I was really hoping for blood with those music notes not paint and an entire episode dedicated to the two leads confessing their love.

Please, just let Studio MAPPA take over now.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 2/10

DROPPED

 

Prince of Stride: Alternative Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

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“Stride,” is an extreme sport that involves six people on one team who run relay races through towns. Hōnan Academy and other schools compete to win eastern Japan’s top Stride competition, “End of Summer.” However, Hōnan’s team has shut down. First-year high school students Takeru Fujiwara and Nana Sakurai attempt to restart the club, but they must recruit six members for the team. They ask Riku Yagami to join, but he turns them down by saying that Stride is the one thing he doesn’t want to do. ~ANN


Animation Production: MADHOUSE ( Aoi Bungaku SeriesBECK: Mongolian Chop Squad /  Chihayafuru/ Death ParadeBirdy the Mighty / KurozukaMoryo no HakoMONSTER NANATokyo Godfathers /

Director: Atsuko Ishizuka ( Storyboards on MONSTER episode 74 / Storyboards on No Game No Life episodes 1 and 12 / Storyboards on Btooom! Ending Sequence)

Series Composition: Taku Kishimoto ( Script Writer on Gin no Saji series / Script Writer on Boku dake ga Inai Machi [ERASED] episode 1 / Script Writer on Haikyu!! seasons 1 and 2)

Character Designer:  Gu-nyon Wang ( Key Animator on Zetsuen no Tempest episode 23 / Key Animator on Death Parade episodes 1, 2 and 5 / Animation Supervisor on Prince of Stride: Alternative Opening Sequence / Key Animator on No Game No Life episode 11)

Music: Yoshiaki Fujisawa ( Music Composer on Akuma no Riddle / Music Composer on Rail Wars!)

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Atsuko Ishizuka

Storyboards: Atsuko Ishizuka

Script: Taku Kishimoto


I really enjoyed this.  The subject of free running is interesting.  This reminds me of Air Gear back in the day. There’s only been two manga that have covered this sort of topic one is Air Gear (which received an anime adaptation and a few awesome OVAs) and its about rollerblading!  The other was a kickstarter project  entitled R.u.N. by a couple of Greek authors.  This show is pure entertainment.  Anything more than that and you might want to check out something else.  Simply because Stride’s first episode contains many tropes that tons of sports anime have overused in the past.

High school students look for club members.  This is set off with one of the only girls we see in this episode–Nana Sakurai.  The acting isn’t terrible but it could be better.  It does help that the female lead is voiced by Kana Hanazawa (Akane Tsunemori of Psycho-Pass) because she is able to develop a character nicely.  One of the other tropes used in this is what otome works are known for–lead girl meets a bunch of pretty boys that she is able to encourage throughout her journey.

The part of this show that has peaked my interest is my favorite studio MADHOUSE animating an entire sequence of a relay race.  And it looks amazing.  Also want to point out that the music is pretty solid.  Upbeat strings and pop really fit the tone of this show–the comedy isn’t all that great but the music handles these scenes without being staggeringly boring.  I’d recommend this show to anyone that wants a series without thinking too much.  We’ve already got plenty of shows that have very strong narratives this season so this is a good anime to break the mold a bit.

The sound effects are very good in this.  It sounds as if Jin Aketagawa took his transition sound samples from No Game No Life and thew them in this show.  It didn’t work for that video game-based anime but Stride‘s focus on sports screams potential for him as a sound director.

OP: “Strider’s High” by OxT

Directed by: Atsuko Ishizuka

Storyboards: Atsuko Ishizuka

Animation Supervisor: Gu-nyon Wang

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Animation is really pretty.  MADHOUSE did a great job animating this show so far.  Not really a fan of OxT’s hard rock the vocals don’t match the song very well. It’s too generic for a sports series.  As for the instrumentals they knock around that this is a sports show we’re watching. The visual transitions are fantastic and I like the direction of free running throughout this sequence. As amazing as the visuals are in this it makes sense considering there is a rookie animator that worked on a few episodes of One-Punch Man and another animator that handled part of Onna’s ice skating scene from episode 11 of Death Parade!

ED: This episode didn’t have an ending rather the credits played over the finale of the race.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 5/10