Summer 2016 First Impressions: Part 12

Hitori no Shita: The Outcast

Summer 2016 Hitori no Shita

I liked the visuals in this scene in particular.

This show looks and sounds “normal”, i.e. audiovisually it met the expectations I have regarding anime in general. The art style, the character designs and the sound design weren’t extremely impressive to me, but I don’t think it’s a bad-looking or -sounding show. The animation in some of the scenes was, for anime in general, above average, which was nice to see. Maybe this will teach me to be less prejudiced toward non-fully Japanese productions.

The most interesting part of the episode was, to me, the story. Instead of world-building and character introductions, the first episode consisted almost entirely of a mysterious crime being committed and the investigation thereof by the police. The main characters are introduced as being possibly involved in the crime, but all we really get to hear is who they are, not what they’re like. Sure, there is some characterisation during the action scene near the end of the episode, but it’s all left pretty open. In this ways, the premiere of Hitori no Shita reminded me more of a pilot episode of an American live-action monster-of-the-week style sci-fi or fantasy show. And it actually works for me. I want to know more about this story and these characters.

Unfortunately, though, the main character, Zhang Chulan, was not very convincing as a serious character. He is introduced as a hot-headed, loud and aggressive kind of character, but he chooses weird targets to get angry at, such as the town he’s visiting. His mood swings later on are also kind of jarring. For instance, in one of the later scenes, he finds out that the other main character is his half-sister, which makes him excited and happy. Normally this kind of behaviour would probably not be out of place, but in this case the main character happens to ignore the fact that his “sister” is literally burying him alive, i.e. attempting to kill him. It’s possible that this is the show’s attempt at humour, but it just doesn’t work at all on any level. Disappointing. However, as a whole I still liked the first episode.

Verdict: Will continue for now. Not fantastic, but not bad either.

 


Ange Vierge

Summer 2016 Ange Vierge

Jet-powered girls are cool.

Well, this premiere basically got as “anime” as anime can get. Lightsabers, explosions, vampire archers, a girl who is half-jet plane, one-winged angels, you name it. The action scenes actually kind of overwhelmed me with how densely-packed they were, but I’m not implying I thought they were bad. Ange Vierge actually surprised me by looking a lot better than I had expected. The character designs aren’t the most iconic, and they all kind of look the same (unlike, say, the characters in Symphogear), but the art and animation in general looked really good. So good, in fact, that this is one of the few shows this season I could watch just for the animation and probably still like.

Well, that is assuming the rest of the episodes have a lot of action and explosions. What I haven’t mentioned yet is that while the first and last scenes of this first episode were action scenes, everything in between were just scenes of different characters sitting in bathhouses talking to each other, giving exposition. To clarify, this – and not just the lightsabers and high-energy action – is why I said this episode was as “anime” as anime can get. On the bright side, though, the characters seemed not to care much about being naked, so there was none of the breast size comparing and similar stuff that many bathhouse scenes have.

Unfortunately, the bathhouse scenes were so devoid of actual things happening that I’m not really sure what to think of the story and characters of this show. Sure, they explained the basics of the story and why they fights and stuff like that, but I’m not sure why I’m supposed to care, and I don’t really know who I’m supposed to root for. Right now, that’s the show’s biggest flaw, at least in my opinion. I can’t think of any reason not to watch more of it, but simultaneously I just don’t know if I care enough to invest any time into it.

Verdict: Looks great, but there wasn’t much in terms of story or characters, at least so far. We’ll have to see what happens next, I guess. Continuing for now.

 


Saiki Kusuo no Ψ-nan (TV)

Summer 2016 Saiki Kusuo

Badger badger badger badger…

Hiroshi Kamiya plays a kid who basically has a whole bunch of superpowers in a world where no one else has any. The point of the show, as main character Kusuo Saiki states many times, is that while having superpowers might sound awesome in theory, it’s problematic in practice. Basically, this just means that the main character has to deal with a bunch of characters who are annoying in different ways. And this is anime, after all, so that’s not too surprising.

And the show actually works, for the most part. I’m not a fan of the high-volume yelling-all-the-time kind of comedy, but some of the references (mostly to other sci-fi and superhero shows) were kind of funny, and in general I enjoyed the parodying (sort of) of superhero tropes. It’s definitely not one of my favourite comedy shows of the season, but it boxes pretty well for its weight class, and the craziness of the comedy occasionally manages to remind me of Teekyuu, and that’s a very good thing.

Visually, the show is actually better than I expected. The art is crisp and the character designs lend themselves to lots of exaggerated and funny faces, which is good. The animation, on the other hand, is not outstanding in any way, but I can live with that. I don’t know if I can watch 24 whole minutes of this show every week, but for now I’ll try.

Verdict: Tentatively watching. Funny faces and references, but the yelling rubs me the wrong way.

 


Mob Psycho 100

Summer 2016 Mob Psycho

Visuals R Us.

Bad news first: I did not like the comedy in the first episode of Mob Psycho 100. Like, at all. Reigen is not funny, and I’m sad that his role seems to be pretty big. This was quite a big disappointment for me, because I expected this to be a show with a lot of good visual comedy, but it didn’t really do anything for me in that regard (ok, the salt throwing being ineffective may be an exception). I didn’t really like the exaggerated faces either, which is a shame, because this show definitely looks unique.

And it’s fortunate that it does, because it really manages to be entertaining with its animation. This show transcends “looking good”. The first scene alone solidified it as looking unlike any other show this season, or most other seasons for that matter. The only other show that comes to mind when I think of that kind of uniqueness is Ping Pong, and when I say Mob Psycho wrestles in the same league I mean it in the best possible way. It’s just… really fun to watch. And on top of that, the OP and ED both sounded and looked great, and the scene with Mob’s family was surprisingly sincerely sweet.

Verdict: It’s just a lot of fun to watch, and that makes me happy. I don’t need much else. Definitely picked up.

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2 thoughts on “Summer 2016 First Impressions: Part 12

  1. I kind of let Mob Psycho go for now. I just didn’t like it much even though it has a lot of things going for it. I’m hoping that by the end of the season I’ll just marathon it and maybe it will work.

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