First Look: Fall 2016 Anime Shorts

allhailnyanbo

Shorts in fall are probably a bad idea, especially in Japan, where the common cold can leave you bedridden for days on end. Nevertheless, this fall season probably has a bigger boatload of anime shorts than ever before, and once again it’s up to Jel and I  – safe for an entirely unwarranted appearance by Euri – to separate the wheat from the chaff. Though this season, that will probably give you enough wheat to bake a single biscuit and enough chaff to feed an entire stable throughout the winter. But hey, at least we got to see Yotsuba animated! Yay…?

nobuninja

Ninja Girl and Samurai Master

Alternate title(s): Nobunaga no Shinobi
Manga adaptation by TMS Entertainment
Simulcast on Crunchyroll

Premise

Plucky ninja Chidori travels from her home province of Iga to Kiyosu Castle to go serve warlord Oda Nobunaga and pay him back for saving her life five years ago.

Aqua’s Verdict: Gone As Quick As It Came

You know what’s the wackiest thing about Ninja Girl and Samurai Master? It might actually be one of the most historically accurate Warring States era set anime in recent memory. Granted, not having Oda Nobunaga be either a woman or a literal demon is pretty much enough to claim this title, but with its portrayal of ninja as trained mercenaries hired to do a daimyo’s dirty work, this show might actually teach people something? Anyhoo, otherwise Ninja Girl and Samurai Master is a fairly standard short that doesn’t attempt to hide its roots as a 4-koma gag manga, but unlike most of these at least doesn’t forget to have actual punchlines. It’s cute, but even its meagre three minutes of length could be spent better elsewhere.

Jel’s Verdict: Sneaks Up On You

I kind of liked this. There’s not much substance to it, but the art style is adorable and the concept of an airheaded girl that is also a super ninja could be pretty amusing. I’m guessing from the OP they’ll be going for humor in the contrast of the cute art style and the fact that she’s a cold blooded, no nonsense killer. Given the small time investment, I’ll probably give it another look.

nyanbo

Nyanbo!

Alternate title(s): NOTsuba&!
Anime original/Spin-off/Whatever by Shirogumi
Simulcast on Crunchyroll

Premise

The Nyanbo are aliens who looks suspiciously similar to a certain cardboard robot. Stranded on Earth, their leader Tora hopes to restore their UFO and return home, but not everyone seems as keen on returning home as he is. Especially Mike. Fuck Mike.

Aqua’s Verdict: Little Big Adventure

There’s something inherently cynical about the fact that the closest thing we’ll ever get to a Yotsuba&! anime is this glorified commercial, but hey, at least they put a ridiculous amount of effort into it? I’m a huge fan of the CGI animation Nyanbo! has going on, so photorealistic it feels like stop-motion and paired with warm, lovely life-action footage that actually manages to somewhat capture the atmosphere of the Yotsuba&! manga. Our crew’s recent obsession with these shows about weird mascot characters doing vaguely humorous stuff (see below) remains entirely lost on me, but man, at least this one is pretty to look at.

Jel’s Verdict: Better Than Bananya

There has been some heated debate amongst us whether this or last season’s Bananya is the anime of the year, but I’m rolling with Nyanbo! I like the mix of live action and CG and a real cat gets a lot of screen time. Also, unofficial Glorio mascot Yotsuba shows up for 2 seconds so how can you possibly top that?

Euri’s Verdict: I’ma Let You Finish, but…

Nyanbo is the best show this season and I will fight anyone that says otherwise.

kiitaro

Kiitaro’s Yokai Picture Diary

Alternate title(s): Kiitaro Shounen no Youkai Ennikki
Manga adaptation by Creators in Pack Tokyo
Simulcast on Crunchyroll

Premise

A boy named Kiitaro and a girl named Suzu start a war between their yokai armies on some very flimsy pretenses.

Aqua’s Verdict: Americans Do It Better

Judging from the title, I’d imagined this to be a generic baby’s first yokai encyclopedia kind of show, but Kiitaro’s Yokai Picture Diary certainly doesn’t beat around the bush. That means that if you don’t know jack about Japanese mythology, this is probably not the show for you, but it does allow Kiitaro’s Yokai Picture Diary to dish out some– err, I mean a less predictable joke. Singular. Well, at least you got to see a yuki-onna fighting a kitsune for no properly explained reason whatsoever? But if that’s what you’re here for, you might as well just read Wayward.

Jel’s Verdict: Yokai Watch… this

Go ahead and groan at my verdict I’ll wait… so,I also kind of liked this? I guess this is the season for cute Japanese historical/mythological based cartoons. Not being up on my Japanese mythology I have a feeling I am missing some kind of context as to who the boy and girl are or if I’m supposed to know any of their yokai army. The first episode was fun regardless, and I might give it another look.

cheating

Cheating Craft

Anime original by BLADE
Simulcast on Crunchyroll

Premise

In the future, one’s path in life depends entirely on whether they pass or fail the National Special-Level University Exam. As a result, people dedicate their entire childhoods to studying and become L-Type students, while others take a different path. They become C-Type students, and go to ridiculous lengths to cheat their way to a bright future.

Aqua’s Verdict: ‘C’ For ‘Could Be Worse’

I’m not sure if Cheating Craft is supposed to be an actual satire of China’s – I know they don’t mention the ‘mainland’ by name, but come on, it’s obviously China – obsession with academic excellence or just a dumb action comedy based on the author’s own experiences trying to turn his pen into a projectile weapon, but it honestly doesn’t matter much. Having once been kicked out of class for doing that very same thing, I admit I did find Cheating Craft‘s ridiculous and creative applications of stationary somewhat entertaining. Unfortunately, the framing is more than a bit lousy. Spending an entire episode on long-winded exposition is not a great way to kick off a short like this, and the whole L-type/C-type hullaballoo just reeks of light novel – it’s all just a tad bit too over-the-top to take seriously. Besides, it’s not like there isn’t another anime short about creative ways to goof off in class with everyday objects already.

Jel’s Verdict: Failed

I’m having a hard time deciding if this was supposed to be a tongue in cheek comedy or if they actually wanted us to take this ridiculous premise seriously. I was somewhat amused at their commitment as the stakes and methods of cheating escalated and I must admit I kind of like the older looking art style that looks pulled from the early 2000s. Other than though, I was kind of bored. If it was trying to be funny it wasn’t funny enough and as an action show I have a hard time getting invested in students taking test, no matter how many super powers or ninja skills they have. Not the worst short this season, but I don’t think it’s worth continuing with.

bernard

Ms. Bernard Said

Alternate title(s): Bernard-jou Iwaku.
Manga adaptation by Creators in Pack Tokyo
Simulcast on Crunchyroll

Premise

Sawako Machida, also know as ‘Miss Bernard’, claims to be an expert on world literature. Unfortunately, she’s never actually read a book in her entire life, which annoys her geeky classmate Shiori to no end.

Aqua’s Verdict: Hardly Literary

Sure, Ms. Bernard Said may have a painfully relatable premise, in practice it turns out to be one of these shows no well-thinking Western viewer has any reason to watch. Leaving aside the various obscure literary references, the central joke of the episode was basically a long-winded rant about the titles under which English books are known in Japan, so untranslatable and culture-specific I’m surprised Crunchyroll actually bothered to license this show in the first place. Then again, that might explain why they put their least experienced translator on the case. It’s Barefoot Gen, you blithering idiot, not Barefoot Ken.

Jel’s Verdict: Turn the Page and Move On

If this has been any longer I would have shut it off because it was giving me a headache. The extremely fast dialogue, words splashing on the screen, and my brain trying to process references that I don’t get just made my head spin. Even if you do get the references, I’m not really sure the appeal of this show is supposed to be, it’s literally just two girls name dropping books. Skip this one, I’m going to go find some aspirin.

nazotokine

Nazotokine

Manga adaptation by Tengu Kobou
Simulcast on Crunchyroll

Premise

Tokine Amino, a secretary and closet otaku, gets dragged into a mysterious dimension named Quizn, where she is forced to solve puzzles if she ever wants to escape.

Aqua’s Verdict: Puzzling

If you ever want an example of how you can managed to muck up the pacing of a seven-minute short, look no further than Nazotokine, a show that tries to be a workplace comedy, a referential otaku circlejerk, a puzzle game, a magical girl adventure and I guess some kind of weird parody of Saw and stuff like that all at the same time. Unfortunately, none of it works, as Nazotokine spends so much time on its lame humour it doesn’t actually have any time left to, you know, introduce, let alone solve, the actual puzzle our snarky protagonist is saddled with. Not that it really matters, because right after being told she’ll need to solve riddles if she wants to survive, she gets turned into a magical girl – or woman, I guess – with otherworldly puzzle-solving skills. Why is this show so dedicated to glossing over the very thing it is supposed to be about?

Jel’s Verdict: I Can’t Figure Out What This Show Is

This one left me pretty confused. First they set us up with an otaku dream girl and then they… make her solve puzzles? Someone please explain this to me, is there a fetish here or something I’m missing? What did her workplace have to do with any of it? I guess I do like her no nonsense attitude and the explosive tokusatsu joke almost saves the episode, but yeah this does not have enough going for it to keep going.

gakuen

Gakuen Handsome

Video game adaptation by an uncredited studio. Yeah, really.
Simulcast on Crunchyroll

Premise

A faceless boy enrolls in a prestigious all-male high school and gets hit on by his homeroom teacher.

Aqua’s Verdict: Go Home, Boys

In case you hadn’t noticed yet, Gakuen Handsome is a parody of yaoi dating sims, up to an including the anonymous, faceless protagonist. Unfortunately, it’s also one of these parodies that thinks indulging in every single cliché in the book, but making it deliberately look like crap is enough to qualify as a parody. And while a man with a strangely pointy chin flirting with the poorly animated protagonist may be funny once, you can’t exactly make an entire show based on that alone. Not even when it’s just a short.

Jel’s Verdict: Ugly

This reminds me of the time I tried to play Hatoful Boyfriend, the infamous dating sim in which you woo a harem of pigeons. It seems like that would be a hilariously absurd concept to explore but in reality it just turned out to be another dating sim with pigeons pasted over the pretty boys. The joke is funny for about one scene and then it’s diminishing returns from there. Gakuen Handsome is just like that if you replace the pigeons with intentionally bad drawings of bishonen. It would be a funny joke in the context of another show, but carrying a whole series? I lost interest in one short episode so I don’t see it happening.

soulbusta

Soul Buster

Alternate title(s): Shi Ling Yanwu
Manhua adaptation by The Chinese Ministry of Eduction Studio Pierrot
Simulcast on Crunchyroll

Premise

A kid with a suspicious lack of interest in history is plagued by recurring dreams about the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Then he fights his teacher by summoning the heroic spirits of famous generals. No, this is not Fate/Stay Night, what makes you think that?

Aqua’s Verdict: Fate/Stay in School, Kids

It’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms again, except this time incorporating all of those lovely anime urban fantasy tropes we all know and hate. I assume Bai Mao’s original manhua – that’s like manga, but Chinese, in case you didn’t know –  had a less than subtle intention to educate the uncultured masses on the value of history, but that doesn’t exactly make for pretty enthralling television. Our protagonist comes across more as strawman from a public service announcement video than as the slacker he’s supposed to be, and I’m pretty sure the best way to teach people what the Romance of the Three Kingdoms was all about is to tell them the story of, y’know, Romance of the Three Kingdoms. A lot could be forgiven if Soul Buster at least looked the part, but the show makes so many questionable aesthetic choices I’m starting to get the feeling someone messed around with the footage in AfterEffects as a joke. Only shows how much they care, doesn’t it?

Jel’s Verdict: Someone Please Clean the Camera

In yet ANOTHER vaguely historical based short, this one feels like they were mashing up the urban fantasy horror of Persona with the historical anime heroes of the Fate series. Add in the fact that I’ve always had a bit of a thing for Romance of the Three Kingdoms and this should have been cool, right? Meh. It’s a rather unimaginative premise at this point, with our chosen one protagonist stumbling into a bigger world of conflict and magic that really just feels like a mix of parts of better things. It’s completely forgettable, and the only thing I may remember is the fact that the art looks like someone spilled coffee on the cels before recording. Seriously, that was not a good artistic choice.

tawawawawawa

Tawawa on Monday

Alternate title(s): Getsuyoubi no Tawawa
Artwork adaptation by Pine Jam
Simulcast on YouTube

Premise

A depressed salaryman stuck in a dead-end job crashes into a pair of breasts with a girl attached to them. As a way of making up for his trouble, she laters asks him to become her ‘bodyguard’ against perverts on the train every Monday.

Aqua’s Verdict: Boobs

I wish I had the words to describe the sounds I produced watching this pathetic heap of animated agony. Tawawa on Monday stirred up some controversy when it got kicked off Youtube for allegedly violating the content guidelines, which had me somewhat wondering if the streaming service wasn’t enforcing some blatant double standards – after all, could a cheap, short anime really be that much more objectionable than some of the music videos Youtube gladly allows? But now I know the truth. Youtube was just trying to protect us from this putrid, vaguely pedophilic wish fulfillment. 

There are countless anime that serve as little more than questionable erotic fantasies for lonely male viewers to project themselves onto, but few are as utterly shameless as Tawawa on Monday with its faceless ‘nice guy’ protagonist getting all but jerked off by a nubile, well-endowed fantasy creature in the shape of an underage girl. Look, I understand that Japanese work culture sucks, and that loneliness is a terrible thing. But for the love of God, don’t let it make you believe that women only exist to make you feel good. Or that teenage girls are okay with you perving on them because you protected them against pervs– Okay, what the hell kind of logic is that? Who came up with this crap–

youkiddingme

MOTHERFUCKER.

Jel’s Verdict: Boobs

I feel like I could write a lot about the repressed, disturbing sexuality in this episode and what it says about the target audience, but this show just isn’t worth it. Basically, the scene at the end with the button is far more creepy than any amount of skin or physics defying body parts they could have shown. The implications of the one line that was something about “not being able to please him this early in the morning” made me feel like I needed a shower. If this was all presented in some kind of negative light, like a dark cautionary tale of succumbing to your base urges, maybe this would have been interesting? Even suggesting that is giving Tawawa on Monday way too much credit though. Clearly this is just fantasy wish fulfillment in one of its worst forms.

2bhero

To Be Hero

Anime original by Haoliners
Simulcast on Crunchyroll

Premise

A single father gets sucked into a toilet and offered the chance to become a superhero. There is, however, one caveat – his appearance changes to that of an overweight slob and anything he tries to say to his teenage daughter will come out as a perverted remark.

Aqua’s Verdict: Nope.

That’s it. I refuse to review this. I’m done.

Jel’s Verdict: Flush It

I can appreciate dumb premises and irreverent humor probably more than any of the Glorio crew and yet even I have my limits. I think this actually wasn’t too far off from being funny, but they cross that line from being dumb in a fun way to just being plain dumb. They also go too far with some of the jokes about how our hero is hideous now and pervving out over his daughter, but is it sad that I just expect that at this point?

Advertisements

One thought on “First Look: Fall 2016 Anime Shorts

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s