Winter 2016 Anime Preview Guide: Part 1

Three episodes, to me, is the amount of time it takes for an anime series to tell the audience what direction it is going.  The world is usually developed, the characters are fleshed out for the beginnings of their personal journey, and the start of the plot is shown to the viewer.   So for no further to do, here are some of the shows that I am currently watching and how I feel about them at this moment.  This preview guide will have either new shows or second seasons that started airing, but no continuations from last season because those shows can stand up for themselves. (I decided not to throw in Durarara because even though it came back from a season break, it is the last third of Durarara!!X2.  Don’t start Durarara here).

Active Raid
Anime Title: Active Raid
Production Studio: Production IMS
Directors: Goro Taniguchi and Noriaki Akitaya
Air Day: Thursday

This show has a very simple plot so far.  Random people are causing havoc in exosuits (think of Iron Man) and Unit 8 of the police department is supposed to stop them.  Unit 8 is seen as a joke by the police department and the public for all the collateral damage caused from each incident.  If you have ever heard of Patlabor, it’s very similar to that series.

This series’ first episode wasn’t the best.  There was some sloppily handled and extremely quick exposition, a main character that felt entitled to tell everybody was wrong in how they are doing things but was ignored, and some sloppy world building.  The next two episodes won me over though.  These episodes focused on fleshing out a character or two of this police force while the protagonist is slowly on the path of figuring out what it takes to do the job and how to deal with her police unit’s idiosyncrasies.  She is a completely competent exosuit pilot, makes mistakes from causing her own collateral damage, but learns from it in attempts to not do the same next time.  The art style is pretty good, the animation is pretty solid, and the CGI use and immersion isn’t that bad either. It’s not the most amazing anime in existence, but it is a fun watch.

Erased anime
Anime Title: Boku dake ga Inai Machi (Erased)
Production Studio: A-1 Pictures
Director: Tomohiko Itou
Air Day: Thursday

The story of this one is harder to explain in the form of text, but I will try my best.  Saturo Fujinuma, a struggling manga artist who is unable to express himself, has the super natural ability which forces him to solve incidents or deaths around him or else time will repeat itself until he does.  Eventually, Saturo is caught in an incident that he is accused as the murderer.  Since the actual murderer has continued this chain since his childhood, he is forced to go back in time and unravel the other crimes the killer has committed.

So far, this is one of the stand outs of this season.  It’s like watching a little snippet of a movie every week.  The mystery is interesting, the characters are true to life, and the animation is gorgeous. It’s an amazing emotional piece.   A-1 pictures definitely brought their A-game this time.  I am worried about this show though, because this studio has a reputation of starting something out great, then having the product fall on its face soon after.  I will watch in hopes that it doesn’t happen this time.

Sekkou boys.jpg
Anime Title: Sekkou Boys
Production Studio: Lidenfilms
Director: Seiki Takuno
Air Day: Friday

This show is a series of shorts with the focus on four stone statues treated as actual idols and honestly this is my guilty pleasure for the season.  It’s really stupid, but it’s the fun kind of stupid.  The idols aren’t even animated, so they look like they don’t fit at all.  When they have the usual anime expressions put on them, it even looks more stupid.  The creators definitely knew where they were going with this series and spending seven minutes a week on this series is a joy.

Rakugo.jpg
Anime Title: Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
Production Studio: Studio Deen
Director: Shinichi Omata
Air Day: Friday

This show is the historical drama set in the later part of the shouwa era of Japan (1926-1989) with Rakugo as the center of its story.  Rakugo is a traditional means of storytelling that involves one actor using different voices and expressions to tell their story like a one-man radio drama.  The show begins when a jail inmate is let out of prison with nowhere else to go.  He immediately heads to the Rakugo performer whose story and style he fell in love with in prison to become his apprentice.

Once again, this is one of the stand out shows of this season.   The characters are written like adults, the direction is excellent, and its art animation is top notch.  This is without mentioning the true strength of this series, the voice actors.  They are all phenomenal and this is something that must be true to pull this series off.  I don’t know if this series will get the attention that it deserves, but it is probably the best show airing this season.

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