First Week Jitters

Starting something new is always hard because you want to make a good first impression. No one wants to meet their new boss, and promptly shake their hand before throwing up all over their desk because you had a stomach bug. That’s a bad first impression at its finest. So when I was asked to do an editorial for UTF I was hesitant out of fear of judgment. I want to make a good first impression. Nobody wants to be the guy who royally screws up when they get a big break, hopefully that won’t be me.

Enough of that, welcome to LOST IN TRANSLATION, your one spot for anything crossing the pacific. With the first (some shows second) week of the Winter Season out of the way let’s see if any of the shows premiering managed to leave a good enough first impression.

Aldnoah. Zero S2 – This Side of Paradisealdnoah

Season 2 has started and unfortunately not much has changed in terms of quality. Remember all those deaths that happened at the end of Season 1,? No? Don’t worry I’ll remind you. The princess and Inaho got their brains massaged by bullets while Saazbaum was punctured like a pin cushion. Remember now? Good, now just take those memories and flush them down the drain because as of season 2, they never happened! Inhao survived being shot point-blank by a glock and huge amounts of blood loss and only walked away with a new cyber-eye. The princess is now in suspended animation while her sister (who was NEVER mentioned or alluded to in the first season btw) takes her place to “rally” the martians, and Slaine saves Saazbaum for reasons I can only surmise as being “for the sake of plot”.

There is some sliver of hope (if you can call it that) in the form of Inhao may actually having a personality this season, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. At least it still looks pretty.

Assassination Classroom – Assassination Time Assassination-Classroom-1

Alright class. Stand, bow to the teacher, and pull out your weapons! That is literally how the first few seconds of AC start, and from then the bullets literally start flying as the Class 3-E fires their weapons while Koro-sensei takes attendance. It set up the tone of the series well along with a few other laugh out loud moments, such as one of the girl’s flashbacks on how Koro-sensei was helping her after school which consisted of him helping her with homework while holding off a knife attack. Everything wasn’t all fun and games however, the explanation of the “End” class was pretty depressing as was the slight peek we got to see of Koro-sensei’s origins. There is even a legitimately frightening moment when Koro-sensei gets angry at a group of students for using a suicide bombing tactic and he threatens to hurt everyone’s families and loved ones if they try something like that again.

We only get a peek at some of the students personalities this episode, chief among them being the Class Representative Nagisa. He’s somewhat of a ghost to those around, not leaving much a presence in the minds of others (similar to Kuroko in Kuroko’s Basketball). Coincidentally this makes him the perfect assassin as he was the one who was nearly blown up in the suicide bombing attempt by slipping through Koro-sensei’s defenses.

Cross Ange – Ange & TuskCross-Ange-Episode-14

After evading Embryo’s attack, Ange, Tusk, and Dragon Vivian (seriously how do her transformations work? Are they triggered by extreme danger or are they just plot convenience?) find themselves stranded in a post apocalyptic world, a real Roland Emmerick wet dream, that Ange figures out is the remnants of the Mitsurugi Empire. Turns out the three jumped 500+ years in the future wherein the world’s population was reduced to 11% by World War 7 or “Raganarok” (subtle). The three find a hotel to stay in but their rest and relaxation is cut short by 2 of the women who appeared from the dimensional gate back in episode 11.

This episode doesn’t boast as much action as last week but it doesn’t really need to, as it serves to add more mystery to the Dragons as well as set up questions that will hopefully be answered down the line. Ange and Tusk have their moments and while I’m not a huge fan of the guy (or the pairing of him and Ange) at least he gets some development and we learn why he does what he does (even if it’s mostly motivated by the Ange’s less than feminine wiles). The post-war setting is a decent one, if a bit generic. Destroyed buildings with vines and grass growing enough to cover them. It’s actually very reminiscent of I Am Legend. Now I’m just expecting Ange and Tusk to find Will Smith so he can give them the cure to save the Dragons.

Death Parade – Death: Seven Darts10526016_757720170980427_2805233343680044211_n

Machiko and Takashi, newlyweds, find themselves riding separate elevators to the eerie Queen Decim bar. Here they are greeted by the bartender, Decim, who serves them drinks before explaining why they are there: to play a game of chance with their lives. Seeing no other option the two agree to his terms and are set to play a game of darts with each space on the board being an area on the others i.e. Michiko’s board affects Takashi and vice-versa. Only given seven darts each, the fist one who gets closest to zero wins. After stumbling through for a short while the couple resolves to hit outside the target as to not hurt the other, but as the circumstances of how they came to Queen Decim as well as who they were as people becomes clearer, Machiko and Takashi’s loyalty takes the ultimate turn off the road.

First thing I want to point out about this show is it’s opening. It is probably one of the most upbeat and dance worthy openings of the season. It’s pretty catchy all things considered. The reason I bring this up is because the rest of the episode is NOTHING like this opening, it almost gives you whiplash how sudden the tone shift is. Death Parade is dark, it’s dreary, it’s almost uncomfortable to watch as the story of Machiko and Takashi unfolds. This is why it is such a good opener, it throws us right into what it’s about and pulls no punches. The game itself is fairly tame as the couple only feel the sensation of pain to the chose point rather than anything visible, but the story of their death’s as well as their lives while they were together are what draw you in, and to Death Parade’s credit it gives you clues while leaving things ambiguous enough where the resolution surprises you.

Capped with pretty good direction, eerie music, haunting tone, and that wonderfully creepy Madhouse animation,. Death Parade could be the breakout hit of the season.

KanColle – Hello! Commander!kancolle-ep1Kancolle 02

Fubuki, a relatively peppy young girl, has arrived as the new member of Torpedo Squadron 3. She spends time getting to know the ins and outs of things with her new friends until they are suddenly called to help with an Abyssal attack. The girls move out, but are soon hit with the sudden news that Fubuki has never been in a battle before! This can can only end well.

KanColle’s first episode is pretty tame compared to the other action shows this season, which is to be expected. I wasn’t expecting blood baths and all out angst from a show whose cast is 98% school girls. Even during the battle scenes there is a good amount of comedy, mostly from Fubuki who can’t get the hang of surfing on water with her equipment. The abyssal’s designs are just threatening enough where we can take them as a legitimate force and the action scenes are pretty well done, such as how they defeat the abyssal of the week by dropping a bomb on it.  Aside from Fubuki and her squad we take a look at some of the other girls but none really leave much of an impression aside from Akagi and Kaga, two of the elite class (the former being the one who dropped the bomb on the Abyssal).

I’m not expecting KanColle to be anything deep or thought provoking, but it could prove itself to be a good pallete cleanser for the heavier shows this season.

Maria the Virgin Witch – Perfect Virgingeprssazb4psp8zvrcqb

Maria is a known legend in the annals of France. To the church and it’s believers she is a heretic, to other witches and mercenaries she is a spoiler of fun, to a few villagers she’s a saint, and to her succubus…she’s a virgin. That is pretty much the joke of the entire first episode, Maria is a virgin who knows nothing of the fairer sex. She’s rightfully curious, but this leads to her sticking her nose into business where she was better off staying put. Case in point she stops a battle between British and French militias because a boy kissed her on the hand, to Maria this symbolized that he loved her, her succubus on the other hand says its only custom because she asked for his name.

Speaking of the setting, Maria the Virgin Witch does a very good job on the animation front if this first episode is any indication. The Maria lives in is well detailed and lush, the battle scenes are gritty but not gruesome, and the use of shadows when Maria is talked about or when she uses her magic is pretty well utilized. There are some moments of dirty humor that only expand on Maria’s ignorance of sex; such as her pondering on why her Succubus’ jaw hurts when she returns from the southern kingdoms, her overreaction of the hand kiss, and when she brazenly states that she’s not afraid of sex and will even lose her virginity to a dog. Despite being raunchy, it adds to Maria’s character and makes her more endearing. She also shows a soft side when she promises a child named Anna that she will watch over her father when he goes to war, and gives her medicine to heal her ailing grandmother who used to visit her frequently.

Aside from Maria and her Succubus, we meet Joseph (the boy who kissed Maria’s hand), Anna and her family, and a gang of other witches who watch the battle between the English and French until Maria steps in. None of the other witches really stand out aside from the witch from England, who becomes perplexed at Maria’s aversion to fighting. Whether she plays a part in the series is up to speculation at this point.

Maria the Virgin Witch started off as well as it need to. Nothing mind-blowing but making itself interesting enough to warrant another viewing. Hopefully it can keep this momentum.

Parasyte – Hello Sadnessparasyte-the-maxim-episode-13

Kana is dead, and Shinichi seems no worse off to the uneasiness of his peers. Fearing his humanity is truly slipping away from him Shinichi returns to the scene of Kana’s murder, hoping that something there will allow him to mourn her properly. His process is soon cut short when he is followed by a private investigator, who takes pictures of Migi.

Hello Sadness is perfectly apt title for this episode, nothing in the episode is happy or warming in the slightest. You could make the argument that this title describes the whole series and you would be right but this episode encompasses just what Shinichi has gone through thus far and just how much more he will have to go through before it’s over.

The Parasytes are steadily organizing themselves, and Shinichi is now firmly on their radar after his actions last episode. Tamiya Ryoko has reentered the picture and we get a look into what she’s been up to. Having given birth to her child, she still finds herself curious as to what to do with it, and her less than stellar parenting skills leave a lot to be desired. There is also the matter of the P.I. she hired to follow Shinichi. Seeing as how she knows about Shinichi and Migi’s circumstances, it’s still a mystery as to why she wants to investigate him, but it can’t be anything good.

Shinichi and Migi have a near falling out when he has to stop of renegade Parasyte from killing the P.I. after he finds out about them. Save that moment for later.

Shinichi himself continues to got through more angst when he realizes that he overcomes stress in mere seconds. This comes in direct conflict with his classmates, especially Murano, who feel he is hiding something. This is only compounded during an emotional exchange between the two when he has to hold back Migi from killing Murano when he is about to tell her the truth, the end result being that Shinichi denies anything is wrong. It’s pretty hard to watch from an emotional standpoint.

As the new season starts, Parasyte is still a great watch with a lot of forward momentum to work with and avenues to explore.

Rolling Girls – King of RookiesRolling_Girls_1b

Nozomi wants to be able to help others like her big sister Masami, the problem is that she is a Rest while her big sister is the famous Maccha Green (not that she knows this). Despite her shortcomings Nozomi gets her shot when she helps out her sisters group during a battle with one of their many rivals.

As far as premieres go Rolling Girls does a pretty good job setting up its world, resulting in it taking another approach to the cliche “post-apocalyptic” genre. Instead of instilling gloom and doom, this apocalypse has awakened sort of a cultural renaissance in Japan. With each prefecture becoming it’s on separate nations each with their own mobs and Bests. This episode chooses to focus on Nozomi and her area, opening with a pretty stellar battle between Maccha Green and a rival gang leader by the name of Kuniko Shingyo (who happens to fight with a giant paperclip).

One thing that most will notice about this show is that its very reminiscent of Kill la Kill, in both style and animation (especially during it’s fight scenes). Now while this isn’t a particularly bad thing (I personally love Kill la Kill, one of my all time favorites), it might hurt the show in the long run if it can’t establish it’s own identity; but there is plenty for Rolling Girls to find it’s legs.

All in all the show is very entertaining from start to finish, with a quick, energetic pace and amazing visuals to keep you watching. Time will tell if Wit Studio has a gem on their hands.

Saekano – Fan Service of Love and Youthsaekano-boring-girlfriend-episode-0-png

Tomoya and the girls take a trip to a nearby mountain in order to scope out locations for their visual novel. Things seem to go relatively well, until Tomoya slowly finds himself at the mercy at the girls for one reason or another.

Instead of outright starting at episode one, Saekano kicks things off with this zero episode. It introduces us to the cast but does it in a fairly unique way. Tomoya, Utaha, Michiru, and Eriri have their characters explained through ham-fisted exposition courtesy of Tomoya trying to write a scenario, while Megumi gets a more natural introduction due to her actions throughout the episode and how she reacts to the other’s stunts.

Saekano looks to be poking fun at harem show cliches, with each of the girls more or less being an archetype. Eriri is the slightly tsundere childhood friend, Utaha is the seductive and dominant older woman, Michiru is the tomboyish family member, Megumi is the quiet and reserved girl, and Tomoya is the lead who is clueless to the girls feelings. Even with these tropes there is a slight difference as Megumi seems to have the best relationship with Tomoya given their banter at the end of the episode, but even then you get the feeling that you’ve seen all this before in one sense or another.

While Saekano breaks no barriers with this opener it still does a good job of introducing likable characters with a pretty unique and relatable goal. With things going for it, it just might be another notch on the belt for goo harem shows.

Tokyo Ghoul Root A – FaithTokyo-Ghoul-S2-First-Impressions

After dealing with Jason, Kaneki emerges from underground to help his friends in Anteiku. He saves Touka from Ayato and begins to fight him before their battle is interrupted by more of Aogiri Tree. As the dust settles on the epic confrontation, Kaneki makes a decision that change his life forever.

Tokyo Ghoul is back and it hasn’t lost a step, starting off with bang as we wrap up the fights that began at the end of the first series. We see the CCG using new equipment that increases their quinqes abilities in exchange for it feeding on them. Ayato and Touka’s battle comes to a pretty harrowing climax for the latter until Kaneki steps in.

Speaking of Kaneki his character has done a complete 180 after his torment at the hands of Jason. Fully accepting Rize, he has become ruthless, easily outclassing Ayato (even though he claims that Ayayto could have killed him whenever he wanted). He also seems to be much more somber than normal, completely casting aside his humanity in order to control his ghoul half, even going so far as to joining Aogiri Tree at the end of the episode (which Touka is rendered speechless by).

If this episode is any indication Tokyo Ghoul is on the right track to maintaining it’s spot as good series, but we will see if this new path is a watchable one as the season rolls on.

Your Lie in April – Twinkle Little Starapril-12b

Kousei begins his lessons under Hiroko and just in time since he and Kaori have been selected to take part in the Gala Concert. The two practice and practice but things on the day of the concert go awry when Kaori doesn’t show up. Now it’s up to Kousei to buy time until she can make it.

Not much to say about this episode seeing as how nothing really significant happened outside of the ending. Kousei seems to be getting a handle on his situation through talks with Hiroko and his friends, he even has a sort of epiphany when he nearly drowns in the pool. While still feeling guilt over his mother’s death, he is learning to come to terms with it little by little. We don’t get much focus on anyone else aside from him, although we do get a glimpse of Kaori’s parents who run a cake shop. They are fans of Kousei’s but they seem to know more judging by the looks on their faces when he and Kaori leave. There is also a brief moment during the pool scene when Kaori and Kousei are asked about their futures, with Kaori responding that she isn’t worried about that, only the Gala (this may tie in to her unknown health state).

Your Lie in April continues to be a good watch, and I can only expect both fun as well as heart-wrenching moments ahead.

Yurikuma Arashi – Never Back Down on Loveyurikuma1

Lesbians! Sorry, allow me to elaborate. Lesbian bears licking the honey from flowers emerging from the chests of lesbian school girls. Confused yet? Good, welcome to Yurikuma Arashi.

Kureha is a girl in love with a Sumika, the two hide their relationship from their peers for fear of judgment but their fragile peace is soon shattered when two girls named Ginko and Lulu transfer in to their class. Turns out the two are bears in human form and unfortunately for Kureha, Ginko has set her sights on her. That’s when we go down the rabbit hole.

Sumika goes missing, prompting Kureha to search for her. When Kureha receives a phone call telling her that Sumika is on the roof, she encounters Ginko and Lulu in their bear forms, the two attack her, pushing her off the roof. We then cut to the to bears on “yuri trial” by three men calling themselves Sexy Life, Cool Life, and Beauty Life. The two declare to not remain in the shadows and proceed to lick the nectar from a lily that grows from an unconscious Kureha’s chest. Kureha then wakes up in the infirmary, being told that no one was on the roof but her.

Yurikuma is…odd to put it mildly. While this is most likely because I am a virgin (see what I did there?) to Ikuhara’s works, I still found this show an intriguing watch that definitely has style all its own. It’s very reminiscent of a stage play with each setting and character introduced with some form of subtitle. The animation is crisp and very beautiful with clashing colors that both pop when need be and be commanding when it calls for it.

If it’s not obvious at this point, this show’s theme is all about sexuality. From the opening, to the dialogue, to the nectar licking this show is very in your face with what it’s trying to tell you, even if the pieces are jumbled at the start.

Yurikuma looks to be another hit for Ikuhara, and I will just go along with the ride.

So far it’s shaping up to a pretty good winter. What do you guys think? Let me know below and come back next time when we tackle weeks 2 & 3 of the winter season.