The Catch-Up: Winter 2017

catchup_01

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 returning shows and reminds readers what we thought about their earlier installments. The Winter season sure looks bad but there is still plenty to watch with more episodes of Classicaloid, March Comes In Like a Lion, KONOSUBA, and Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu on the way. There’s also more Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans so make of that what you will…

catchup_02

ClassicaLoid

Anime Original by Sunrise
Simulcast on Crunchyroll

What’s this again?

Famous classical music composers have been genetically reincarnated as anime dorks with bizarre superpowers. They shack up in a giant mansion run by a teenage landlady who is struggling to pay off her father’s debts. The most powerful Classicaloid, the great Bach-sama, is trying to gather them all into his sketchy idol agency.

Jel’s Verdict: Getting Better With Age

Classicaloid began life as a silly, fun, and almost educational little diversion but has since evolved into the best comedy we’ve had in a few seasons. With the entire cast introduced, they now have room to play off each other and their escalating musical powers with hilarious results. The latest episode only reinforces how bizarre and funny the show can be, sending Franz Schubert and eventually the entire cast on a journey that made me think of one of our favorite Random Manga Theatre posts. I’ll also note one more time for newcomers that director Yoichi Fujita (Gintama, Mr. Osomatsu) continues to impress me with his mastery of comedic timing. If you like his previous work, you will feel right at home here.

catchup_03

March Comes In Like a Lion

Sangatsu no Lion, 3-gatsu no Lion
Manga Adaptation by Shaft
Simulcast on Crunchyroll

What’s this again?

As a child prodigy, Rei made his debut as a professional shogi player immediately after middle school. Several years later, he is struggling with life outside of shogi and coping with his tragic past. He finds some kindred spirits in a trio of sisters who have also suffered great loss, and with the help of other friends and colleagues Rei begins to change.

Jel’s Verdict: Anime of the Year 2017

If this show wasn’t running for another season, I would have voted for it as my favorite anime of 2016. As it stands, it will be a strong contender for my favorite show of 2017. It’s a perfectly balanced blend of intense drama and heartfelt comedy that at this point nearly moves me to tears every episode. Sure there are dark and heavy issues in both Rei’s past and present that need to be dealt with, but they’re always met with Rei’s amazing new support system of friends and colleagues. As we enter the second season, we see Rei himself finally realizing this and feeling out his boundaries with the three sisters. We even have a proper villain now in Gotou, and I can’t wait to see their inevitable showdown. So let’s be honest, you have plenty of time to watch this considering how bad the new shows this season look. Get on it.

catchup_04

KONOSUBA – God’s Blessing On This Wonderful World! 2

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku o! 2
Light Novel Adaptation by Studio Deen
Simulcast on Crunchyroll

What’s this again?

Kazuma is a useless NEET who dies an ignominious death after a traffic accident. The goddess Aqua grants him the opportunity to continue living in a world that looks suspiciously like a fantasy RPG. Kazuma also receives one wish, which he uses to drag Aqua down with him out of spite. The two team up with a couple of other weirdos and try to survive as adventurers.

Jel’s Verdict: As Ugly as the Main Cast’s Souls

At first glance KONOSUBA sounds terrible, but the important thing is to think less of it as another garbage light novel “trapped in a video game world” story and more like a “horrible people doing horrible things to each other” comedy. Everyone is really stupid and terrible at their roles and yet somehow they get the job done, skewering all kinds of fantasy anime tropes in the process. It’s quite funny. Our first episode back picks up with Kazuma on trial, creating a convenient and amusing way to recap his past deeds and why everyone in this show is a bad person.

That said, I thought the first season was starting to tilt a bit more toward actual light novel trash and not just parody, and our first episode back still has me wondering if the writers truly understand what made the show special up to now. At certain points it’s like we’re supposed to root for these terrible people and I’m not sure I like that. Also, I know the show always looked bad but WOW, this episode looked like I was watching Millennium Princess x Kowloon Overlord. The visual quality was so bad that I am wondering if they are doing it on purpose at this point. I’ll keep watching for now, but I do wonder how much longer I’ll be able to put up with KONOSUBA’s shortcomings.

catchup_05

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

Manga Adaptation by Studio Deen
Simulcast on Crunchyroll

What’s this again?

Under the apprenticeship of the legendary Yakumo Yuurakutei, former yakuza member Yotarou (now named Sukeroku) has become a fully-fledged rakugo performer. Yakumo’s ward, Konatsu, now has a child whom Yotarou is helping to raise as his own, while also still determined to reinvigorate the dying rakugo industry with his own style of storytelling.

Artemis’ Verdict: Bring It On

There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that this will be good, and very likely excellent. The first season of Rakugo Shinjuu was both delicately written yet packed a huge emotional wallop; it was quietly tense, finely-crafted, and powerfully poignant. I expect nothing less from season two. The main difference could very well be in exactly what kind of story it sets out to tell. While season one was a crushingly beautiful tragedy, we’re now no longer in flashback territory and therefore also no longer have that sense of inevitable melancholy that so pervaded the show. It could very well become something entirely different this time around, maybe even uplifting – it’s still pretty hard to tell after the first episode’s characteristically restrained performance. No matter what happens plot-wise though, I’m excited to see what this next installment of this series has to offer, not least thanks to the truly stunning cinematography that Rakugo Shunjuu continues to bring to the table.

vlcsnap-2017-01-13-15h04m57s734

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans

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

What’s this again?

Iron Blooded Orphans turns the corner into the final stretch. It’s been a long and poorly paced road but for better or worse, here we are.

Gee’s Verdict: Guess I’m Stuck Here At This Point

Rife with potential and mediocrity in equal measure, Iron Blooded Orphans continues to meet my low expectations in all the worst ways while occasionally displaying the flash of brilliance I wish the whole show had. I suppose in some ways, the second season has made some legitimate improvements over the first, but that could possibly also be a result of me already knowing just how little IBO is capable of. Still, I suppose there’s something to be said for maintaining the course, even if said course is a slow and boring one.

Conversations and themes that should have occurred 20 episodes ago are just beginning to be explore now, 38 episodes in. Various plot threads that could be interesting if individually developed are clumsily mashed together into a clusterfuck with no signs of a clean ending. In IBO’s favor, it maintains the mecha design bar of excellence that Gundam is famous for. And someone definitely listened to the complaints about the lack of fights in season one and responded accordingly. If only said fights were well animated or interesting beyond a few shining moments. If you’re like me and still somehow watching this, then you might as well stick with it to the end. If you’re curious about what the latest mainline Gundam has to offer, I recommend diverting your attention to some of the decent OVAs that have aired recently, such as The Origin or Thunderbolt.

Advertisements

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