Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
Short Synopsis: A former criminal wishes to take up the art of comedic storytelling.
This has to be the strangest show of the season and for that I really like it. We have a first episode that’s around 45 minutes long and a large majority of that time was spent listening to a man on a stage tell a story. The art of Rakugo is a fascinating one, being similar to how a comedian tells a long joke but not quite the same. In some ways it’s like a man trying to put one a one man play with no props, stages or costumes. Just conveying a story through gestures and his voice. When thinking about it you could brush it aside and say that’s nothing hard to do to which you would be correct. Anyone can get on a stage and tell a story but it’s something else entirely to entertain a crowd with nothing but yourself and a story. The oddest thing of all is that it actually works, in particular when listening to our main character tell a tale involving a comedy skit of a man getting burgled. Not once did the anime show a visual representation of what the man was talking about and yet just from him telling the story I found myself playing it out in my mind and even smiling. It’s a very bewitching and engrossing craft, one I am quite interested in. Visually the anime does work well with showing the subtles of the tellers moments and the character roster is most interesting. And what may be a godsend, there’s not a single stereotype in sight. No tsunderes, kuuderes, danderes, lolis, genkis, bland everyboys, emo boys, yanderes, yangiris….just people. It’s just so refreshing to see something that doesn’t contain characters lifted off the database of anime caricatures. Of course this is a very niche title, one that may not suit everyone’s fancy. It’s a very slow paced tale that’s very much focused on character more than anything else. Still I wouldn’t mind seeing more of this.
Hai to Gensou no Grimgar
Short Synopsis: A group of people struggle to survive in a RPG world.
I truly love the visual direction of this series. It’s a kind of storybook/watercolour feel to it and I just think it’s beautiful. In terms of story I feel it was done a lot better than the light novel but a major gripe of mine remains. A lot of these characters just rub me the wrong way, especially that red haired Dread Knight. Every line of dialogue that comes out of this guys mouth is just irritating to the core and makes me want to punch him in the face. The other characters bug me for other reasons like them being rather generic tropes but if I was to point a finger at something it would be the dialogue. There’s just something obnoxious about these lines that bugs me to no end. That aside I do like the gentle atmosphere of this episode and the general premise is a good one. A group of normal people trying to make their way in a world in RPG game fashion. Nobody seems overpowered and it truly is a beautiful anime to look at. While the characters annoy me I might watch this on visual merits alone.
Saijaku Muhai no Bahamut
Short Synopsis: A clearly mentally unstable girl challenges a boy to a fight after seeing her na….oh come on! Really?! Again?!
You know, when you take up the position of watching every first episode of every season it really does become apparent when something is designed to be popular. A formula like the heroes journey, but more strictly kept to. It’s not only apparent in how these shows always tend to have the same lineup of girls but also in presentation. For example, how many of these shows start with exposition taking place over an epic battle? Answer, a lot. How many of these shows have the girl screaming with a shaking shot of the location? Answer, a hell of a lot. How many of these shows start which have the protagonist happen upon a girl naked and have her challenge him to a duel to settle it? Answer, 2…which happened last season. Before that god only knows. Look guys, I know you need your paychecks and until Japan realizes there a whole untapped market outside of Japan, this is the only real way to get your money back. But please, for all that is good in this world, can you at least try? I mean Tenchi Muyo had more creativity than this and that is an anime from over twenty years ago! Well what can I say about this? It’s Infinite Stratos with a medievil theme. It’s every standard light novel story you can think of. Nothing new to see here.