The Catch-Up: Fall 2016

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After The Wrap-Up and The Roundup, it’s time for The Catch-Up! Because it’s a bit silly to write a ‘first look’ post on shows that aren’t technically new, The Catch-Up gathers our brief impressions on new seasons of existing shows and reminds readers what we thought about their earlier installments. The Fall season is bringing us new episodes of Sound! Euphonium, Natsume’s Book of Friends, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans and Glorio Blog favourite BBK/BRNK. What’s remained the same and what’s new or different? We’re here to help you find out.

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Sound! Euphonium 2

Alternate titles: Hibike! Euphonium 2
Novel adaptation by Kyoto Animation
Simulcast on Crunchyroll

What’s this again?

Kyoto Animation’s coming-of-age drama about the exploits of a high school brass band, perhaps best known for being breathtakingly gorgeous and one of the few anime in which the gay subtext serves an actual purpose. Not unimportantly, we quite liked it and chose it as our second favourite anime of last year.

Jel’s Verdict: Dangerously Heterosexual

There were two main fears I had for the second season of Euphonium: 1. introducing new girls would take the focus off of Kumiko and 2. there would be a whole lot of backpedaling on Kumiko and Reina’s relationship. If you want to throw in a third lesser concern, I was worried we’d get off to another slow start like season 1 where the girls just hang out for a few episodes and talk about their instruments. Fortunately the double length premier episode eased my mind for the most part, addressing each of those issues. I loved that we dive right back into the band drama and all it’s delicious awkwardness, and even though Kumiko is not technically at the center of it her conscience can’t seem to keep her away. Having her attempt to heal the band’s year old wounds would go against her personality but it would also show the level of personal growth she’s experienced thus far.

Then we have concern #2. As noted in my verdict, I did feel like dragging up Reina’s supposed crush on Taki-sensei and letting Shuuichi show his face at all made things “dangerously heterosexual” (which was funnier when I said it in our group chat, apologies), but order was restored to the world in the final festival scene. Hey Shuuichi, bro, if a girl doesn’t want to hang out with you as a friend she probably doesn’t want to go on a date with you either. Take a hint and hook up with the cute tuba player. That said, I will not feel safe about this ship sailing until it survives until the final episode. What, didn’t you read Aqua’s description? It actually serves the plot! Come on, look at how much they love each other! Alright, I’ll dial back the fanboying and look forward to our next episode.

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BBK/BRNK: The Gentle Giants of the Stars

Alternate titles: Bubuki Buranki: Hoshi no Kyojin
Anime original by Sanzigen
Simulcast on Crunchyroll

What’s this again?

A direct continuation of the delightfully bonkers mecha series that premiered earlier this year, featuring trains; Americans; and a tiny girl who fights with a huge, sentient hand. Basically a Trigger show, but with more CGI.

Iro’s Verdict: And We’re BBK/BACK

Yep, this sure is more Bubuki Buranki, and I am most definitely okay with that. A major plot thread last season was that Reoko’s Entei and the main cast’s Oubu were the only two working Buranki left on Earth. Now, six months after the Buranki Nest fell into the ocean during episode 12, every team of Bubuki-users ethnic stereotypes has an immensely powerful giant robot to call their own. Add a morally dubious Frenchman and Azuma’s bratty little sister into the mix, and we’ve got some kind of weird cross-up resembling a Trigger-styled rendition of Mobile Fighter G Gundam. Sounds like a hell of a time to me.

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Natsume’s Book of Friends (Season 5)

Alternate titles: Natsume Yuujinchou Go
Manga Adaptation by Shuka
Simulcast on Crunchyroll

What’s this again?

A new season of the laid-back slice-of-life anime about a bloke, a cat, and to date, fifty-two episodes’ worth of youkai. Like Durarara!!, studio Shuka inherited the franchise from Brain’s Base, who produced the last season back in 2012. It was blatantly ignored on this blog because we didn’t have Artemis back then.

Artemis’ Verdict: Totally Not Biased

Fans of life Natsume Yuujinchou rejoice – this is exactly the same show in nearly every single way as in the previous four seasons, and since I’m a big fan of not fixing what ain’t broke, I’d say that’s a very good thing. In fact, the sole change-up here is the studio going from Brain’s Base (who, let’s be honest, haven’t produced anything truly great since the previous Natsume Yuujinchou in 2012) to Shuka. Since this hasn’t made any impact on the art style or anything else I can see, I’m pretty okay with that. On the other hand, if you’ve never seen anything of this show before then all I can say is you should go and remedy that immediately; you’re missing out on the single best supernatural/slice-of-life anime ever created.

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Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans

Alternate titles: Mobile Suit Gundam: Tekketsu no Orphans, G-Tekketsu
Anime original by Sunrise
Simulcast on Crunchyroll, Daisuki & Hulu

What’s this again?

Second cour of Mari Okada’s take on the most famous mecha franchise of them all. Our resident mecha expert Gee labeled the first 24 episodes ‘mediocre’, so don’t expect too much. Then again, he also said that most Gundam shows don’t even really ‘shit the bed’ until their second half. Oh dear.

Gee’s Verdict: Fool Me Once, Shame On You. Fool Me Twice, Well These Robots Are Pretty Cool…

If there’s one thing I’ll never take away from Gundam: they know how to do premieres. The first couple of episodes of Iron Blooded Orphans’ first season were some of the strongest and most promising mecha storytelling I’d seen in a while. The second season of IBO lives up to that grand tradition, introducing some fairly interesting world building elements, some potentially engaging plot threads, and of course, some cool robots. The idea that Tekkadan’s actions might have actually made the world worse for everyone but them is a super interesting idea to play with. Alas, the second season of IBO has a multitude of things going against it. The most obvious one is that IBO’s first season also had a ton of potentially interesting elements that it completely failed to capitalize on. I have zero faith that season two will be any better.

On a greater meta level, Gundam shows rarely improve with the second season. SEED was already a shitshow, But Destiny just further cemented its reputation as one of the worst Gundams of all time. 00’s first season was a refreshing take on the franchise, only for the second season to get rid of everything interesting about it. Gundam Build Fighters is probably my favorite Gundam in a decade, which made its sequel, Try, all the more heartbreaking to watch. In Gundam‘s entire history, you would be extremely hard pressed to find an example where the show actually improved in notable ways in the second half. So does IBO’s second season do a lot of things a good followup should do? Totally. It hits all the right notes, does just enough exposition to get you back up to speed, and introduces just enough plot threads to make you excited for what could be. But Gundam‘s shaky reputation is just too much to ignore. I’m going to keep watching, but my expectations will be even lower than they were last year.

Iro’s Verdict: YOU CAN’T DRAG ME BACK IN

You can’t fool me, Iron-Blooded Orphans. The major problem with Season 1 was that all of the depth and possibilities I was seeing onscreen were in fact a fabrication of my own mind, extrapolating interesting concepts the show introduced but never actually followed up on. So, just like the first half of IBO 1, during this premiere I found myself thinking things like “oh, that’s cool”; “hm, what if…”; “I wonder how that’ll turn out…”; et cetera et cetera. And, I mean, the new Mobile Suits look pretty rad. But Iron-Blooded Orphans has already set itself a track record, and despite Season 2 hitting the ground running, there’s no indication it’ll actually pick itself up when it inevitably stumbles. Too bad.

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5 thoughts on “The Catch-Up: Fall 2016

  1. Am I really the only one who finds Euphonium pretty, but also pretty dull?

    Hyouka was a beautiful coming-of-age story that truly dealt with young people beginning to find themselves and discover who they really were as full-fledged adults. It was Kyoto Animation at its absolute best.

    This show, on the other hand, just seems like, well, a mundane high school band drama, teasing a potential lesbian romance that will likely never really resolve itself, and otherwise over-stuffed with a literal band of under-developed, uninteresting characters.

    I realize I’m fully in the minority on this, and therefore likely just demonstrating poor taste, but this show really leaves me ice cold.

    • You’re not alone, I dropped it in episode 2 or 3 because it bored me to tears. I hardly remember anything about it beyond how a drag it was to finish each episode

      • Those first couple episodes are by far the shows weakest, any love we have comes from about ep 6-12, it’s why Euphonium wasn’t as high on my year end list as other shows.

      • I also dropped it at episode 3 for the same reason, the slow start is definitely it’s biggest weakness. I went back after I heard episode 8 is amazing (it is) and I’m very glad I did, the later episodes totally make up for it.

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