[FINAL IMPRESSION] Winter 2017 冬

Now that (almost) everything has ended this season, let’s take a look over the anime Winter 2017 had to offer…

For my first impression of the series, please click the links in the titles.


Schoolgirl Strikers

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Even if I may have been pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t terrible; this anime wasn’t particularly good either. Unlike another series based on a card game, Ange Vierge, you didn’t need to know any terminology from the game itself so it could very well stand alone as its own thing. And unlike Ange Vierge, it doesn’t feel the need to have a bath scene every single episode. The characters are shown interacting outside of battles in different ways, from watching Io’s volleyball games to visiting cafes, and that way the audience can see that they actually fit as a group. They’re friends before teammates and I think that’s important in an anime where the characters have to work together. I liked how each team had their own ‘image’, especially the maid uniforms of Procyon Pudding. The existence of O’buri still hasn’t been fully explained, and neither has the science of the Stella Prisms, so if you’re watching an anime for pseudo-intellectual sci-fi, this is definitely not the series to choose. But as a light anime about a team of girls fighting evil, it’s not too bad.

Gabriel Dropout

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My favourite part of Gabriel Dropout is something that I actually mentioned in my First Impression post. I loved how the angel and demon characters didn’t act the way they were ‘supposed’ to, with Gabriel prioritising herself over the people she was sent to watch over, and Satania and Vigne not being threatening at all. Raphiel just creeps me out with her manipulative personality, which leads to one of the most common gags of the series – the stray dog stealing Satania’s melonpan. However, despite the characterisation being what I like most, the cast don’t actually change over the course of the series. There’s no real character development and they basically stay in a constant state of personality limbo. It could be classed as a slice of life series, and with an episodic plotline and humour created from the same few plot points, it can’t change too much of its formula without shifting the entire balance of the show. I like the Doga Kobo productions I’ve seen so far, including this one, but I probably wouldn’t sit through another season. Roll on New Game! Season 2.

ACCA 13-ku Kansatsu-ka

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ACCA was definitely one of my favourites this season. The whole aesthetic of the series, from the pseudo-European districts of Douwa, Badon, and Korore, to the American inspired Rokkusu and Yakkara to the more Middle Eastern Furawau, there’s a diversity not often seen in anime. However, it’s not always good representation. Furawau are not the good guys, and as the district with the darkest skin and the most obvious differences, it could be problematic. Although, questions of race aside; the plot is great. There’s not many anime that make me invested in one viewpoint and then introduce information which starts to change my mind. It feels like a statement about real life politics – that you should consider the all of the information and form your own opinion, rather than be influenced by other people. I absolutely loved the art-style and the music really suited the overall feel of the show. I liked the fact that cigarettes were a recurring theme, giving a visual representation of the districts’ support. Also, the use of bread to show differences between the districts, and to act as a cover for government officials to talk about politics without suspicion, was also a stroke of genius. Although if I hear the word ‘shokupan’ one more time; I may go a little bit insane. I doubt there’ll be another season because even if this anime got a 4.5 rating out of 5 on Crunchyroll, I don’t think it’s been that popular. Besides, the ending seems quite final, with all conflicts resolved, so a second season might end up forcing the plot.

Piacevole

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There’s really not much to say about this series other than it’s a fun way of teaching people about Italian food. It’s short-format, so nothing much happens, but one recipe was featured each week and the ending theme sang about how to make it. It was interesting to see it compared against Japanese food with Teiri Sara insisting that food native to Japan was superior to everything else. By attempting to win her over, it may just convince some of the audience to branch out and try new foods.

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

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Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is currently in a battle with ACCA to claim the title of my Winter 2017 favourite (I’m not counting Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju in this fight because it’s a continuation of a previous season.) And my problem is that I just can’t decide. Because they’re so different, it’s impossible to really compare them. Dragon Maid is heartwarming and light, but knows when to get serious when needed. The art style is adorable, even if it isn’t the Kyoto Animation standard. I always expect good things from KyoAni and this didn’t disappoint. I loved the development of Kobayashi and Tohru’s relationship, moving past the master/servant dynamic into a close friendship and perhaps even love. The three of them had made their own family unit, with Kobayashi and Tohru both parenting Kanna while Kobayashi went out to work and Tohru chose to stay at home. I love the Family of Choice trope, and here it’s executed perfectly. Kobayashi is estranged from her parents, and Tohru ran away from her own world. Kanna initially disliked Kobayashi but grew to see her as a mother figure. And through Kobayashi’s bonds with her new dragon family, she is encouraged to reach out to her human one. I’m not a fan of Lucoa’s character but the rest of the cast more than makes up for it. Overall, this is a great series, and it has a great opening theme to boot.

Minami Kamakura High School Girls Cycling Club

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Now this is a bike club series done right. In my last Minami Kamakura post, I compared it to Spring 2016’s Bakuon!! but after 12 episodes, I can say that it’s miles better. With very little fanservice, if any, and a ditzy protagonist who actually seems like she’s learning something, it’s way less frustrating. And I think that’s why at the end of the season, I felt more attached to the characters… even if they haven’t got the most original personalities. The character I was most interested in seeing was the foreign exchange student, Sandy, because it’s rare to see Western characters in series that aren’t specifically about studying abroad. And that’s especially true if they’re part of the main group. Yes, her Japanese doesn’t sound great, but I can’t be annoyed about that because my Japanese probably sounds worse. This anime not only educated people about riding bikes, but also included information about the Kamakura area, so even if you’re not about to jump on a bike tomorrow you still learn something interesting. I liked the subplot of Kamikura Fuyune wanting to take photos for her bedridden sister, but was I the only one thinking that she should just get a GoPro-style camera and film everything? Her family’s rich enough to buy her one. (Was it literally just me?… Okay then.)

Bang Dream

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Because Bang Dream hasn’t actually finished yet, due to starting a few weeks behind, I can’t really make my opinion final. There’s still a couple of weeks to do something different, but so far it hasn’t really been that interesting. The animation looks decent, apart from the CGI fill-ins when the band is playing, but that’s a personal preference. Unless it’s deliberately stylised like Puella Magi Madoka Magica, I’m not a fan of mixed art styles and methods, and was one of things which I didn’t like about Kantai Collection… even if that wasn’t the worst example of CG anime ever. Thankfully, it’s kept to a minimum here. At the moment, Bang Dream is just okay, and probably way more enjoyable if you’re a fan of Poppin’ Party in real life. I said in my First Impression that I hoped this anime would prove me wrong, but it hasn’t.

Interviews with Monster Girls

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You had one job, Demi-chans. As I said in my first impression post, I really don’t like the whole Teacher-Student Romance thing. Although thankfully, Takahashi-sensei doesn’t even entertain the idea so even if Machi had said anything, he wouldn’t requite her feelings. After all, he is a much better fit for Satou-sensei. One thing that I really liked was the change in the opening theme after Yuki’s first interview – it was just a small detail which made all the difference in showing her character development. The concept of this anime is interesting, but it feels like the original plot point of Takahashi’s thesis is only a vague idea to excuse what is ultimately just another high school anime. But with the sheer amount of high school series available, it’s extremely hard to do something completely new and innovative, so I’m actually impressed that they did that much.

Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju

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Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen definitely kept up the quality of the first season. I enjoy learning about Japanese culture and I enjoy theatre, so rolling both of them into a single anime was always going to get me hooked. Season 2 is less obviously historical than Season 1, being set in the second half of the 20th century instead of the first, but there’s still enough of a historic atmosphere to make it still feel like Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju. I don’t think the first season gave Yotaro and Konatsu enough screen time to really grow attached to them properly, but Yakumo was as consistent as ever. Despite his stoic personality, I’d really grown to like him, so he made revisiting the series feel really familiar. However, it did turn into a guessing game of ‘will Yakumo die this episode?’, because the whole anime kept implying that it would happen… and soon (which totally didn’t help my heart rate). We’d already listened to the characters’ signature style of rakugo and now it’s familiar, I could really appreciate the differences between them. From Yakumo’s mature style, which really suits the serious and fatalistic stories, to Yotaro’s informal style, which suits the comedic stories, I love how it shows how versatile rakugo can be.

March Comes in Like a Lion

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Compared to Fall 2016, this half of Sangatsu no Lion is a lot less depressing. You can actually feel Rei’s life improving by opening up to people and learning that he has friends to support him. I’ve made it no secret that I don’t like his adoptive sister, so I’m glad that her character had no screen time after the first few episodes into the Winter season. I did feel like the end was slightly abrupt, as though they were in a rush to finish, but there will be a second season so that’ll probably be fixed later. I thought that I’d get bored of Momo’s overly ‘kawaii’ voice but I surprised myself by finding it cute every time. The comedic moments really balanced the story and were timed so it never got too miserable. I’m looking forward to finding out more about the mysterious Souya, and I hope we get to see Rei face off against him eventually. I have mixed feelings about Sangatsu no Lion because on one hand, it’s a realistic story about how you don’t always win and get what you want, but on the other hand sometimes you need some escapism.

Overall, here are my top 3 series this season:

  1. ACCA/Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
  2. ACCA/Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
  3. Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju

Coincidentally, all three have my favourite opening themes this time around.


Which series did you like this season? Did you watch any I didn’t? Let me know in the comments…

For full Winter 2017 coverage, click here.

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