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Winter Anime Season 2016 – Review April 4, 2016

Posted by coolmikeol in Anime, Otaku, Seasonal Anime Reviews.
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After a relatively dull year of anime back in 2015, the first anime season of 2016 is strong and enjoyable. We had some pretty amazing anime from the get go this Winter Anime Season, like Aokana and ERASED, and I’m definitely looking forward to the other seasons of the year. If you want to see a full list of what animes I’ve watched, you can always check out My Anime List. Here is a list of animes that I watched from this season:

Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm

Boku dake ga Inai Machi

Dagashi Kashi

Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri 2nd Season

Heavy Object

Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko: Everything Flows

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans

Musaigen no Phantom World

Ooyasan wa Shishunki!

Oshiete! Galko-chan

As usual, SPOILERS will be avoided as much as possible, but sometimes may pop up through my writing if I think it’s not too much of a SPOILER.


Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm

Aokana

Aokana was a joy to watch, I’ll start off with that. In this anime, advances in technology has allowed for the creation of Grav-Shoes, shoes that allow flight with balancers built in to prevent loss of control and falling out of the sky. Because of this, a sport called Flying Circus was created; To score points, they either touch buoys floating above the ocean, or their opponent’s backs.

I’ve been fascinated with flying for a bit of a while, and if I had to choose just one superpower, it would be to be able to soar freely through the skies. If Grav-Shoes were real, I’d probably would have played FC as well. As to whether I’d do well or not is purely up to imagination. While the game rules are simple, the techniques in order to score points and outwit opponents are surprisingly deep. I also like how each character seems to have their own styles of playing FC. I remember someone commenting online about wishing that the word of Aokana was real, and I would probably wish that as well.

Another reason that drew me into this anime is the music, specifically the opening that is sung by none other than Mami Kawada. First time I heard the song I recognized her voice, and was glad to hear her again doing an anisong after such a long time. The happy news was short lived though, because I would later learn that she had announced her retirement from singing at the start of this year, with her performing her last concert in May 2016.

The style of the opening music and the cute character designs reminded me of trailers and openings of visual novels, and sure enough I found out that the Aokana anime is adapted from its eroge counterpart, minus the adult content. In the final episode, an insert song plays during the climax which is actually the opening song from the visual novel, “Wings of Courage (Sora o Koete)” by Mami Kawada. The combination of the action and feelings of the characters in the final battle with Kawada’s song from the Aokana visual novel gave me chills, happy chills that made my heart fly with the characters.

This anime may not look like much, but it struck a chord with me on multiple levels. I enjoyed the characters and their personalities, and it was also refreshing to not have any form of harem or relationships form throughout the story in the anime. It was straight up all about the main characters striving to win the Flying Circus Tournament, learning through trial and error alongside friends who support each other all the way. It’s a simple, beautiful thing that made Aokana an enjoyable experience to watch.

——

Boku dake ga Inai Machi (ERASED)

Boku-dake-ga-Inai-Machi

The best anime of this year so far, ERASED has brought back the excitement of waiting for the next episode with their cliffhangers. Time travel and mystery, mixed with some good characters and music made this a fantastic anime to keep me on my edge of my seat.

In the opening and throughout the series, the characters around Satoru were all subject to being the murderer, besides the ones who were killed. Hinted by censors on the eyes in the intro and red eyes usually when someone seems to act suspicious, the anime tried to throw us off to who was really behind it all. I’ll only say this much: The answer is simpler than you think. If you’ve watched the first half of the anime, you may have tried to guess who the killer is. At first I thought it wasn’t going to be as simple as that, but that’s the beauty of it. I ended up thinking in a loop of who was the killer, analyzing each character, but the most obvious one ended up being it. I felt that we were psyched out at times to make things more interesting, and it most certainty was, but a little boring considering that you could theorize that the killer was the one the moment you saw him.

The music in this anime is another reason for its success. One of the things I didn’t realize until later was that the anime’s music was composed by the famous Kajiura Yuki. I knew it was good but for some reason didn’t recognize it as her work until watching a piano cover on YouTube. I also love the opening theme “Re:Re:” by ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION. Didn’t realize that this song is quite old, first being released back in 2004 as part of their Sol-fa album. Listening to the live versions by AKFG and covers by others on YouTube makes this song sound even better.

I’d recommend this anime to pretty much anyone, whether you’re an anime fan or not. It’s more of a drama that uses time-travel to add to the mystery to the story. A nice touch to these aspects is that in episode 11’s opening, Satoru is completely missing, explaining the reason for the title of the series, and the consequences to his actions. The ending of this anime wraps up everything nicely, without leaving questions behind. Please try this show for yourself if you haven’t yet, I’m sure you’d enjoy it.

——

Dagashi Kashi

dagashi-kashi

Dagashi Kashi is an anime primarily about dagashi, Japanese cheap snacks that are targeted mostly to children. I had heard of this anime from hype that was on the internet and decided to watch it based on that. Each episode is split into individual sections, and in each section a particular real dagashi is the subject of the main characters attention. Using history and humor, Dagashi Kashi basically is trying to sell the snacks to the viewers.

While I bought into the hype that was Hotaru, it pretty much ended there. I did enjoy the humor that was tried, but that was really the only thing that kept my interest. There was times that I’d fall asleep while watching the episode, and didn’t really care much about missing some info about a dagashi that I never heard of. This is the most marketing I’ve seen an anime do directly to its viewers, and I don’t think it was a bad thing, it just wasn’t my thing.

——

Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri 2nd Season

GATE II

The second cour of GATE has wrapped up, and it was quite an adventure. I like the progression with all the characters, and how the SDF was ramping up it efforts to create peace between Japan and the empire. Unfortunately the creation of peace hit roadblocks, as it was indirectly caused because of one’s wishes to destroy the empire for revenge. This reason is not known to anyone, which is why this problem won’t go away until it is revealed.

While the focus is still on Itami and his fantasy squad members, the anime has also put a lot of the side characters into the limelight to show what was going on in different parts of the world at the same times. In doing so also shows their importance towards the overarching goal of peace, or the opposite.

I’m hoping the anime advances into a third season, but I’m prepared to wait a bit until then. I’d like to see if the root of the problem with the empire will be exposed, and how the SDF handles it. We already see that deeper relationships have formed between some of the SDF forces and people beyond the gate. How this translates towards a better tomorrow will only be seen in a future season, as the ending of this second season didn’t feel like a true end which I feel will end up being akin to the closing of the gate.

——

Heavy Object

Heavy Object

Heavy Object has just concluded, and it was an alright series. There wasn’t much to the plot, as each segment was about a standalone battle or mission, and while they each were linked in chronological order, it wasn’t that important than the present. The main thing that made this series interesting was mainly Qwenthur, whose unorthodox plans to disable or destroy Objects by themselves, made you wonder how he was going to pull it off.

——

Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko: Everything Flows

She and Her Cat

This was a nice little 4 episode anime that I picked up casually. As the Japanese title says, its about she and her cat, a story about a college student girl and her cat who has been with her for most of life. The story is mostly told through the cat’s point of view, where he speaks about his life with her and the feelings he can sense from their bond. As it’s a short anime series, there’s not much plot to it, but I enjoyed it because of how the anime was able to relay the emotions the characters felt to us viewers, by showing us their highs and lows we all feel in real life.

——

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans

Gundam Orphans

Gundam Orphans was a fantastic way to get into the franchise, as it’s a standalone series from other Gundam series which I think have continuing timelines. It’s always hard for me to try these kinds of series that have been spanning for a long time, because I wouldn’t know where to start. It’s similar to why I watched Magic Kaito 1412 featuring Kaito Kid, a spin-off series of Detective Conan, which has been going on for hundreds of episodes. Just like in my previous review of the first half of this series first season, the pacing of the story has been consistently good. I never felt that things were happening too quickly or too slow, which is probably why I don’t think any of the episodes are fillers.

Most of the Gundams in this series weren’t very noteworthy to me, but maybe because it wasn’t the only focus that this anime had. The characters were the ones who shined the most and made the anime what it was, hence why the name of the show is called “Orphans” and not “Barbatos”. The theme of family was strongly presented throughout the series, showing how it can transcend both the body and the reaches of space.

The conclusion of this first season of Gundam Orphans has built the foundation for what’s to come in the next season. The main story of Kudelia’s mission to Earth has been completed, but now has opened into the next conflict, which is the destruction and reformation of the corrupted Gjallarhorn, sparked by none other than McGillis who holds rank within said organization. It will be interesting to see how the small company of Tekkadan plays into this upcoming revolution, now supported by many, friends and family alike.

——

Musaigen no Phantom World

Musaigen no Phantom World

This is Kyoto Animation’s latest anime series, and in general it has performed not as well as its previous animations. For starters, the fan service was over its head in the first few episodes. It’s a bit tiring when an anime has to use fan service right at the beginning in order to attract viewers. I’ve seen many that have done so, and it’s apparent that it used it in that way when the fan service starts to die down relatively significantly midway in the season. The second reason why people probably were not entertained was that there didn’t seem to be a plot at all. Each episode had it’s own standalone story which usually didn’t matter in the next episode. The slice-of-life aspect aside, they felt too separate to be side by side episodes, rather it felt like I was watching OVAs. It was only in the last two episodes that I felt something much bigger was lurking in the shadows. Kyoani found a way with the action, story, and feels, but a little too late. If they only brought it out at least midway in the season, this anime wouldn’t be getting as much flak as it’s getting. I still enjoyed watching the colorful action and potential that Myriad Colors Phantom World had to offer, but it missed the mark for it to be another good anime of their’s. However if a new season is announced, I will watch it in hopes that it progresses in the right direction.

——

Ooyasan wa Shishunki!

Ooyasan wa Shishunki!

An anime short series about a guy named Maeda that lives in an apartment complex, who finds out that he shares the building with his middle school girl landlord Chie and neighbor Reiko. In this slice-of-life show, it shows his casual interactions with the two during his day to day life. It’s an adorable series to watch, seeing how Maeda and Reiko dote on innocent Chie even though she is just their landlord, as if they were almost her parents (which are never shown or explained). I did notice that in some of the episodes, 2 minutes each, that the events and dialog in an episode were rushed to fit that timeline. It’s slightly annoying but I remember it only affecting a few of the episodes mid way in the season. Either way I think it a nice little series to causally check out if you’re into slice-of-life and moe.

——

Oshiete! Galko-chan

oshiete galko chan

This anime is basically girls talk, combined with breaking stereotypes of character looks. It’s an anime short series that I picked up fairly late in this anime season, as I was bored waiting for new episodes of the animes I was watching and decided to try this one while browsing on Cruncyroll. I’ll admit, this anime doesn’t seem to be aimed towards people like myself as it’s all about girls talking about things that guys wouldn’t really understand, though I can try to put myself in their shoes to somewhat feel their pain. Besides those topics which were more prevalent more so in the beginning than the end of the season, I enjoyed watching the interactions between not only the main three characters, but also of the other characters that were introduced as well. Each character may use design stereotypes, but their personalities and beliefs are different and unique. This is done to illustrate that you can’t judge a book by its cover. For example, Galko who has the style of a gyaru, is a good innocent girl who is friendly with everyone; Otako is an otaku who tends to like mocking Galko and asking her about suggestive topics; Ojou is a rich, friendly airheaded girl who tries her best to understand non-rich people’s problems. All of them may look and play the part for which their appearance suggests, but they are much more than meets to eye. It’s a surprisingly enjoyable series that I think most mature audiences can relate to, both for girls and guys.


 With a strong start to this new year of anime, I’m hoping that this momentum will continue into the next anime season. I’m looking forward to it.

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