The Winter Anime Season 2016 At A Glance

Well, my friends, the winter anime season is upon us, and I have to admit, I’m not overly thrilled about it. Of all the new shows and returning series, a very small few actually managed to pique my interest. Of everything that has premiered so far, there was a lot that I got bored before the half way mark.

Back at the start of the fall season, I tried to at least touch on everything that was coming up, but ended up subjecting myself to things that made me question the worth of the human race. In order to avoid that happening again, I’m just going to focus on the ones that held my interest all the way through their first episodes.

No, I’m not being lazy. I’m just swamped still. Don’t make me whip out the Humperdink again.

Divine Gate

Divine Gate

A futuristic series, set in the world after the appearance of the Divine Gate, which opened our world to the realms of heaven and hell, and gave certain people one of six different elemental powers. Some time later, the Divine Gate has become a myth no one really believes in. The World Council oversees crimes committed by Adapters, as those with abilities are called.

At first blush, this is a very engaging series, despite revolving around a sad version of Armin from Attack on Titan and an even dorkier version of Natsu from Fairy Tail. This is mostly due to the first episode focusing it’s time on telling us more about Sad Armin, and why he’s sad, which despite me making jokes, is actually a pretty compelling story.

My biggest worry is the World Council itself, which seems to be comprised of stock anime characters that are probably evil and planning to take over the world for nefarious reasons. Granted, it’s hard to get a read in just one episode, but it was something that jumped out at me as the biggest potential failing of the series.

That aside, the animation is gorgeous, and the three central characters we are introduced to appear to be well crafted so far. Time will tell, of course, but for the moment, I’m going to recommend this one, and am seriously considering blogging it.

Musaigen No Phantom World

Phantom World

Set in a world where reality and fantasy have become one and the same, due to a virus altering how the human brain perceives reality. All manner of make believe creatures, called phantoms, now interact with humanity. While this is generally not a problem, as most phantoms are harmless, some are aggressive. Teenagers born after the virus have developed special abilities that allow them to deal with these aggressive phantoms, and do their best to keep the world safe.

While there is a lot to recommend about this series, based off the first episodes, it has some drawbacks as well. There is a solid concept at play here, one that could well prove to be incredibly interesting as the series progresses, about the nature of reality and the phantoms themselves. The characters are well crafted and at first glance, have depth, making them relatable and believable.

However, any time you have an absurdly busty female character who has to massage her boobs in order to invoke some aspect of her magic, it kind of ruins all that and turns it into a borderline porno. Not to mention that she has to bounce her boobs all over the place to win a limbo contest. It took what could be a very interesting story and just kind of made it into a bad joke.

I’ll give it a few episodes to see if it can deliver, or if the writers are hiding their inability to handle the subject matter behind fanservice that does nothing but detract from the story. Regardless, I’ll take a pass on blogging this one.

Akagami no Shirayuki-hime Season Two

Shirayuki

If you haven’t seen season one, stop reading this and go watch that. Seriously. I’d rather that show get watched than this blog get read. It’s that damn good. I pity that I didn’t start blogging anime until the first season was already running, just so I could blog the second season. The animation, music, and character interactions are as near to perfect as we’ll ever likely see in any medium.

Now go watch it.

Dimension W

Dimension W

Unlike Divine Gate and Musaigen No Phantom World, which are futuristic, yet comprised heavily of fantastical elements, Dimension W is much more a straight up sci-fi series. In a nut shell, it’s about Wolverine trying to get by in a world run on ZPM’s. Okay, okay, that’s not what it’s actually about, but damn, the joke was too easy and obvious for me to pass it up.

Somewhere in the future, humanity has learned how to harness energy from Dimension W by way of coils, creating a stable, global, limitless energy system. Kyoma, the Wolverine like guy, despises coils, and works as a Collector, recovering illegal coils. In the course of his work, he encounters Mira, an incredibly sophisticated robot, created by the same man who first developed coil technology, and now apparently wants to destroy it. When he appears to die, Mira and Kyoma team up to stop the proliferation of illegal coils.

This show is as heavy on style as it is on substance based on the first episode. Kyoma is not a traditional hero, and that already appeals to me, and while Mira gets animated in a slightly fanservicey way from time to time, it’s never enough to distract from the story that is unfolding, nor undermine her character. The animation is typical of BONES, meaning stunning to look at, granting the world a unique look and feel. All in all, it has the potential to be a hell of good series, so long as they can avoid falling back on cliches, which I’m kind of hopeful they’ll manage, as it has a ton of promise.

I’d say give this one a watch, and I’m considering blogging it based on the first episode.

Hai to Gensou no Grimgar

Hai to Gensou no Grimgar

Without a doubt, this is the show I was most interested in based on the previews, which made it look like a good old fashioned fantasy series. While it didn’t end up quite being that, it is still the series that most interests me of the new shows this season.

In a nutshell, it revolves around a group of teenagers who one day wake up in a world called Grimgar. They have no memories of how they got there, or even who they are, though careful use of dialogue lets us know they come from our world. It’s got a Dungeons & Dragons vibe to it, as each of them must select a class and earn their way in their world, making it even more appealing to me.

While there is a bit of fan service present, it’s kept to a minimum, and actually used to help shade the various characters, which is an interesting approach, so I’ll let it slide. The characters themselves are an interesting mix of personalities, with strengths and flaws that they are still learning to work around, not just as individuals, but as a group, giving them all plenty of room to grow. Likewise, their skill levels in their various classes leaves a lot of room for improvement, and the first episode makes this the focus, showing them struggle to just earn a living and develop the all important skill of teamwork.

The animation is simply beautiful, from the character designs to the lush, rich backgrounds, making it a real treat for the eyes. The music here really stands out from the other shows I’ve mentioned, with the exception of Shirayuki-hime, lending Grimgar an extra layer, as the soundtrack helps tell the story and reflect the moods of the characters.

I have a strong feeling I’m going to be blogging this one, though I’ve got to admit, that there are a total of three shows I’d really love to blog, the winter season is off to a much better start than I expected. I’m going to rewatch their premiers later tonight and decide on one, and start blogging it come Thursday.

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