[Description]: With week four of the Fall Season now finishing up and most of the airing shows a good deal into their content, it seems like a good time to voice my impressions of what I’ve been watching so far. I won’t be covering sequel series because I think most people will already be watching or not watching them. If you want any additional information on these shows, either click on the links provided or you can read my seasonal prospective here. For people wanting to play a bit of catch-up now that we have a better idea of what these shows look like, I’ll be talking about what was surprising, disappointing, and most importantly – what’s worth watching going forward.
Must-Watch: For me, Flip Flappers is definitely the break-out show of the Fall Season. It came out swinging with all of the energy and animation that one might have expected from it but it’s what else it brought to the table that made it exemplary in my mind. Its visuals are stunning but the show possesses an abundance of great, provocative influences from fairy tales to optical illusions and the resulting complicated tone and subtext along with everything else keeps me waiting desperately for its arrival each week. It’s admittedly a little bizarre so it might not be for everyone, but be sure to check it out.
3-gatsu no Lion (March Comes in Like a Lion)
Must-Watch: There was a lot of excitement for 3-Gatsu before it began airing and its first four episodes do well in legitimizing that enthusiasm. As expected of Shaft and Shinbou Akiyuki, its presentation is brilliant, emotionally charged, and just beautiful to look at. It has been very somber and measured in how it explores each of its remarkably endearing characters. There isn’t much in the way of shogi to speak of but that may change in the future. Every episode has been breathtaking and even surprisingly dramatic at times. With only 4-episodes under its belt, 3-Gatsu has already proved itself worthwhile and promises greater things ahead.
Fune wo Amu (The Great Passage)
Worth Watching: On the topic of relatively measured dramas, Fune wo Amu has had a good first few episodes and behaved more or less as you might have expected. While it’s kind of an adult-oriented, contemporary drama, it’s surprisingly uplifting in how it portrays its realistic characters and their romanticized job of creating a dictionary. What’s worth noting is its attention to character animation and the subtleties in their movement. The show feels a little predictable given its grounded nature and inspirational approach but there is still plenty of room for it to impress in the future through its visual metaphors and potential character development.
Worth Watching: The first episode of Yuri on Ice was really something to behold. It was full of personality and featured an absolutely stunning figure skating sequence near the end. While the other episodes haven’t quite lived up to the strength of the show’s introduction, it has still been pretty fun to watch. While romance is thankfully not a major part of the show in any way, it has been ramping up what I might consider ‘relationship baiting’ over the course of its early episodes. It doesn’t feel very authentic or genuine at all and while these fan-service moments and the show’s comedy somewhat compromise its seriousness at times, they ultimately aren’t the point of the show and aren’t too distracting. Yuri on Ice certainly shows some real promise and it’s been a good watch so far.
Worth Watching: A very shaky and poorly paced premiere compromised a lot of people’s interest in the show yet it remains one of the more popular anime of the season. Though its first episode was quite problematic, it’s since reigned things back in a bit and while it still possesses much of that Durarara-esque eccentricity, Occultic;Nine has been steadily getting a grasp on it. The story is all over the place and with nine central characters, there are a lot of connections to be made. What can be said is that, there’s a lot of mystery to go around and the presentation of the show definitely has a somewhat fun and erratic personality to it. Occultic;Nine feels pretty his or miss and its story could just as easily evolve into something complex and interweaving as it could fall apart at the seams. So far it has at least been moderately engaging and visually interesting.
Worth Watching: I know I said I wouldn’t be covering sequel series however, for Bungou Stray Dogs, I’ll make an exception. I picked up the second season of this show almost sarcastically given how much I disliked the show’s first 13 episodes however the first arc of the second season has been very surprising. The story itself is a prequel which drops most of the shoddy comedy of the first season in order to pursue a far more brooding, and dramatically legitimized exploration of its main cast. It’s a genuinely good story, full of interesting developments and good characters which I couldn’t apply to any part of the first season. While the show might very well relax back into its old ways, the first 4 episodes of this season were quite something and were probably the single biggest surprise of the season.
Shuumatsu no Izetta (Izetta, The Last Witch)
Consider Watching: From a design and premise perspective, Izetta was one of the shows I was more excited for going into the Fall season. A magical witch riding a gun – what’s not to like? The first episode of the show was pretty decent and the show possesses a really keen sense of WWII wartime, from its vehicles, to its trenches and battles. What has marred the show to a surprising degree is its lack of significant developments for the better part of its run and the presence of some truly out of place fan-service and sexual comedy. It’s got potential but its uninspired plot thus far combined with its awkward objectification of its titular character are tarnishing what could be an interesting show. It’s setting has a lot of authenticity about it however the show will have to quickly change its behavior if it wants to become something more than forgettable.
Keijo!!!!!!!!! (Hip Whip Girl)
Consider Watching: When I first heard about Keijo!!!!!!!!! my hope was that it would be so ridiculously over-the-top that it would be funny and for the better part, it has fulfilled that expectation. While it’s been steadily ramping up the aggressiveness of its fan-service each episode, it approaches its makeshift sport with the perfect degree of seriousness for it to be downright hilarious. The outlandish abilities of the show’s cast are pretty inventive and funny but what’s more is that the way in which they are visually executed is so full of gravity and energy that I can’t help but laugh. The caveat I’ll add to my praise is that, just because Keijo!!!!!!!!! resembles a sports show in some regards, does not mean it resembles a good one. It’s pretty cliche and full of fan-service but I’ve gotten a lot of laughs out of it and if it sounds like you might enjoy it then I’d say it’s worth checking out.
Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku (Magical Girl Raising Project)
Consider Watching: At premise, this show sounded like a good deal of fun. Magical Girls fighting to the death in order to survive? The show promised a grim outcome from its first few minutes however the show has thus far been slow in arriving at any noteworthy developments. Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku seems very emotionally subdued and so its dramatic elements including its dire premise have kind of fallen flat. There still may be hope for the show to turn into an entertaining blood bath but with such predictable death flags so far it’s more likely to turn into a mediocre show where one sits around hoping their favorite magical girl doesn’t get killed off next.
Consider Watching: One of the more disappointing series this season for me – if you were expecting more Working!! then this show is likely to let you down. The show follows through on its proposed eccentric cast of characters though their chemistry with each other is fundamentally different than that of the original cast – sectioned off into pairs, often romantically, instead of the more interweaving design of the original show. If the value of a comedy show is rooted in how often it makes you laugh, then WWW.Working!! has certainly been found lacking. It simply isn’t all that funny and with nothing else going for it, that makes it dull to watch. It’s improved since its first episode and there are a few worthwhile characters and so if you’re in love with the Working!! series it might still be worth watching however for newcomers, it’s hardly a comedy worth noting in its own right.
Don’t Watch: I was initially attracted to the show because of its absurd premise involving famous composers, giant robots, and mysterious music powers however its ridiculousness ultimately wasn’t all that appealing. I dropped the show after it’s first episode and so I can’t speak to it at length but its comedy felt awkward and disconnected from the identity of its characters and the plot seemed like it was going nowhere fast. It wasn’t my brand of comedy but perhaps other people would get more enjoyment out of it.
Don’t Watch: This is a show I tentatively picked up just to see whether it could surprise me but after two episodes I ended up dropping it because it failed to do just that. It has a decent first episode and the manner in which it portrays its protagonist becoming utterly enamored with biking is straight out of K-On! That being said, the characters are aggressively archetypal and from what I can tell, the whole of the show is the lead character’s various friends making her overexert herself in her new hobby in order for the viewer to learn a few things about bicycling. The characters are in college which I thought was an interesting addition but they neither look like it nor act like it so really its just narrative flare rather than an actual, appealing factor. If you don’t mind its formulaic nature and love the topic of bicycling then maybe it’s worth checking out but otherwise it’s really nothing special or anything you haven’t seen before and done better.
Don’t Watch: Another show I dropped after the first episode this season. There isn’t a whole lot worth saying about this show other than that it was generic feeling and full of awkward cliches. Magical Girls, fan-service, run of the mill first episode – Soushin Shoujo Matoi just didn’t present anything worth sticking around for and didn’t seem like it was in the business of subverting my expectations any time soon.