It’s been a while since I did a post on here, and given my current watching habits, it’ll probably be a while until the next Anime Pocket Reviews is ready to go, so for the time being, I thought I would bring back our mid-season reports!
Overall, this has probably not been the greatest anime cycle I’ve seen, with some highly anticipated shows disappointing and some shows already losing what popular interest their starts had built. However, it hasn’t all been disappointing, and I’ve been lucky enough to stumble upon some real gems! Here is my quick review of the series I’ve been watching so far. Or if you wan’t something quicker, scroll to the bottom for our Winter ’17 Ranking!
Konosuba 2 (S2, 6/12[tbc] x 24mins)
Following on from season one, Kazuma continues to be disappointed with his band of adventurers – Aqua, Darkness and Megumin – while trying to write off the crippling debts and criminal charges put against him because of his group’s actions.
We’ve already reviewed the first season of Konosuba on The Culture Cove here, and if you read it, you’ll be unsurprised that this is a series that I am really enjoying!
It felt like ages since the first season, so when this returned, delivering once again that brand of irreverent, and at some times almost dark and distasteful comedy, it was extremely refreshing. Yes, the story is really average, and so far there’s been no real attempt to take the story any further than just the four of them plodding along – the show appeared to try to introduce other characters more, but none of them seem to stick for long enough – but honestly, all Konosuba needs to do is keep the jokes and fun between the four of them at strong and consistent as it has been. Konosuba is, still, one of my favourite anime comedies!
Nanbaka (S1, 20/25 x 24mins)
A play on the words Nanba (meaning number) and Baka (meaning idiot), the story follows four criminals, all living in the Cell 13 in the ginormous Nanba Prison, the most formidable prison in the world. The story primarily follows Jyugo, a Japanese inmate who has an uncanny ability to pick any mechanical or electronic lock he comes across, except the shackles on his neck and wrists, which he mysteriously gained before arriving at Nanba prison.
Again, this is another really good comedy anime. You could argue that this is actually season two, as it launched last cycle and has carried on, meaning while the others in this post are only a handful of episodes through, Nanbaka, at episode 20/25 as this is being written, is building to a conclusion.
Again, while I think Nanbaka struggles to find a balance between comedy and drama in the more serious moments of the show, in those moments where it can purely be a comedy series, Nanbaka is exceptional at delivering childish, tongue-in-cheek fun. This also has to be one of the most vibrant shows I’ve ever seen; despite being set in a prison, the blast of colour from the characters and setting throughout is really nice to see.
Acca: 13-Territory Inspection Department (S1, 6/12 x 24mins)
This story is set in the fictional kingdom Dowa, a land that has been at peace since a change in governmental policy following unrest 100 years ago, involving giving each unique state its own autonomy under the ACCA umbrella organisation, ruled over by the Five Chief Officers and the long-standing monarchy. The story follows Jean Otus, second-in-command at the ACCA Inspection department, a small group charged with overseeing regular district audits. However, after such a long time of peace, Jean is warned that the Five Chief Officers of ACCA are planning to disband the department, while rumours of a planned coup d’état begin to circulate across the kingdom, which seems intent on pulling Jean into the middle of it.
While there has been some good series in this cycle, this probably is the biggest shock to me. I had no idea what this was, or what it was about, before watching it. Now, six episodes in, I can’t get enough of it!
What stands out most for ACCA is its beautiful art style. Clearly inspired by European settings, ACCA has a very continental feel running through it, with the anime being created in an almost classical French style of gaunt faces and tall, lanky bodies. the slow-natured attitude of Jean runs into the whole show, creating a patient, almost romanticized aura around what is a classic conspiracy story. There’s very little I can fault with ACCA – the only thing I can think of is the speed of storytelling, although I feel like that’s just me, as a fan, being greedy for more – whereas the art, and general feel of the show, is genuinely a delight to watch, and I would recommend this to anybody, anime and non-anime fans alike!
Akiba’s Trip The Animation (S1, 7/12[tbc] x 24mins)
The story takes place in Akihabara, a world-famous anime heartland in Tokyo. Two hardcore otaku siblings, Tamotsu and Niwaka, are shopping in the many shops of Akihabara when the streets are overrun by cosplaying monsters, called Bugged Ones, that bite and possess the people of the mini-city. Tamotsu is nearly taken by one of the monsters, only to be saved by the mysterious Matome, a high-level Bugged One who is able to control her ability, and fights against the outbreak. However, Tamotsu finds himself attacked by one of the monsters, and although Matome saves him from the evil, he is also transformed into a high-level Bugged One. The two of them, along with Tamotsu’s sister and genuine cosplayer Arisa, stay in the city to try to get to the bottom of the monster outbreak.
Akiba’s trip is unashamedly, in your face, a love-letter to anime and otaku culture. The story is set in Akihabara, and uses genuine shops and locations from the home of Japanese otaku culture as a base to build what is a pretty far-out story. The comedy is okay, but not great. What makes this show good, and enjoyable for me, is its feel-good attitude! Akiba’s Trip is a happy-go-lucky, colourful and snappy series that will hugely appeal to hardcore anime fans thanks to how in-tune it is with the culture of it all. However, I can’t imagine non-anime fans, or people new to anime, will be as hugely into it as I find myself.
Masamune-kun’s Revenge (S1, 7/12 x 24mins)
The story follows Masamune, who, when he was little, fell in love with the beautiful Adagaki Aki, only to be rejected, and labelled ‘Pig’s Foot’ by the very girl he confessed to. Destroyed and tormented, Masamune put himself on countless diets and weight-training routines. Now, he arrives at high-school as a beautiful, confident boy, with the aim of getting the untouchable Adagaki – now known as the Cruel Princess, due to her treatment of men – to fall in love with him, only so he can reject her with as much grandeur. However, as the two of them become closer, and other people come into the picture, Masamune starts to doubt what end result he is looking for.
I loved this series at the start. The idea itself is excellent, and the character Adagaki Aki is really well portrayed at the start as this unattainable girl. The trick to this series will be what conclusion they reach, as while it could really go three different ways, you do feel like you can see the conclusion coming already. However, this is still quite a funny series with a well-developed teenage romance storyline.
Chaos;Child (S1, 5/12[tbc] x 24mins)
Based on the videogame of the same name, Chaos;Child follows Miyashiro, a member of his high-school’s newspaper club. Miyashiro hears about a string of mysterious, violent killings in his city, Shibuya, and when he looks into them further he notices that the dates line up with the New Generation Madness, a string of horrifying killings that occurred six years ago. Using them, Miyashiro is able to predict when the next killings will occur, and tries to discover who – or what, as strange sumo stickers begin to sprout around the city, close to the site of the murders – is behind this.
I have said that I am watching this, but I can feel this show quickly losing my interest. I watched Chaos;Child because it is the third in the ‘;’ trilogy, if you like, as the game was made by the same company that made Steins;Gate and Occultic;Nine, two games that have also been adapted into really good anime series. Unfortunately, CC won’t have the same success.
It actually started incredibly well. The first episode was nothing short of incredible: it showed graphic violence and horrifying images in anime in a way that I had never seen before, it was really powerful stuff! However, that is a prequel to the story (supposedly taken from the game that prequels CC) that looks at the New Generation Madness. The story itself in Chaos;Child is filled with less-than-human characters who you really struggle to care for. The story is decent, but seems to be drifting, and has now taken a superhero turn, for some reason, and the animation is that manufactured, glass-eyed and undramatic style that really lacks emotion. Chaos;Child may be by the same games company as Steins and Occultic, but is made by a different company – a company who are making the aforementioned Masamune-kun’s Revenge, I might add – and lacks any of the humanity possessed by its predecessors.
Koro Sensei Quest! (S3[?], 6/12 x 10mins)
A spin-off of the successful comedy series Assassination Classroom, the series follows the events of season one. However, the story – while retaining the same characters – is set in an alternate, magic universe inspired by popular RPG videogame series Dragon Quest.
This isn’t strictly a series, but I wanted to include this because I think this is an example of how sequels and spin-offs, not necessarily should be done, but can be done!
I should note now that Assassination Classroom is, effectively, impossible to continue anyway, but having just finished season 1, it was awesome to see the same thing again, with such a random, but well-executed twist. It’s one of those things that you see, and you think ‘this is genius!’
Assassination was a decent comedy in itself. I’ve seen better, but it’s back-chatting style was still quite funny. In Koro Sensei Quest, you get the impression that everybody in it knows the story, and the show is almost doing a satire of itself and the popular game franchise. There’s a point in the story where two monsters fight, and when this happens in KSQ, one of the characters says “this is way too serious a direction for a gag anime to be heading! Do you not remember the concept for Koro Q!” And the fight becomes a gameshow instead. It’s stupid comedy times 10, which wouldn’t work for a proper series, but when each episode is only 10 minutes, it’s so funny, and a joy to watch! I would love to see this kind of treatment given to other shows, as Koro-Q makes it look so easy, and it would act as a great filler between seasons.
I’ve already said that this wasn’t the best anime cycle I’ve seen, but looking at all those shows I find myself unsure if that’s fair! I guess what this cycle is lacking is a really tough, hard-hitting series; there’s a lot of comedies here, but not much story. Either way, here’s my ranking so far:
7. Chaos;Child – By a-mile-and-a-way the worse show on this list. Desperately lacks a sense of humanity and emotion.
6. Nanbaka – A really solid comedy. Perhaps lacking a bit of story, but would finish much higher if it wasn’t for the stiff comedy opposition in this list.
5. Koro-Q! – An ingenious idea for a comedy spin-off that is so easy to watch and enjoy.
4. Masamune-kun’s Revenge! – A really good romantic comedy with a great idea behind it. It’s success or failure will lie in its conclusion, now.
3. Konosuba – One of my favourite comedy series has lost none of its magic on its return.
2. Akiba’s Trip – A fantastically vibrant and exciting series that I find impossible not to enjoy.
1. Acca 13 – An absolutely gorgeous work of animation that has the story and characters to back it up. Truly a joy to watch, so far.
What’s your favourite show from this cycle? Anything we missed? Let us know in the comments, or follow us on Instagram for more anime stuff!
Also, APR Ep. 26 shouldn’t be too far away now, and then it’s our 50 Anime Review!