Problem Children: Like Kotura-san, this was a show I sort of heard about as the season went on and checked it out as a curiosity. All in all it was fun, but that was about it.
The story is essentially that a trio of teens from different time periods with different powers are sucked into this fantasy world and are challenged to participate in these gift games. In these games you can bet anything, powers, pride, land, all of that jazz, and the goal of the group these children are in is to try and rise up from being no-names to being their own powerful- blah blah blah, I don't really give a crap about all of that. To put the story of this series shortly; its like when I first watched Index, there was too much talking and monologuing about stuff that I just partly paid attention and just looked forward to the parts when my favorite characters got to strut their stuff or be funny(which was sort-of cured when I began reading the novels, but that's another topic). In this series case the four main characters are more than enough reason to watch.
Black Rabbit, this show's resident bunny girl, first appears to be the useless fanserivce character, but not only is she actually a bit more entertaining than that, she's also just as much of a badass as the children, if not possibly more. She serves as a sort of a moderator for the games the children gets involved in (even when they bet her) as such, she's very knowledgeable about this world and has to keep her self at a certain level of authority...which the children don't respect in the slightest. Izayoi is most guilty of this and is very shameless about it, but as far as I care he has every right to be shameless. In a world where LN main characters seem to be spineless or bland, its nice to get a flat out ass who asserts himself in every way possible. He's smart, takes shit from no one and has the power to back it up. You(a character not 'you' yourself) and Asuka are likable characters that either just want to make friends or learn more about the world, and develop friendship that doesn't devolve itself into yuri undertones (See Railgun? It CAN be done!). While they aren't by any means revolutionary actually feel a bit more like characters rather than members of Izayoi's harem. Now that I mention it, Izayoi DOESN'T have a harem, which is another refreshing sight. He causally flirts and makes perverted remarks, but none of the female casts are fawning over him, and I think what's even more likable is the fact that they can group up to cause trouble as showcased above. The only one you could possibly say does is black rabbit, but that's just barely as its mostly just her reactions to his insanity.
Now as I said earlier, this show was fun, but that's really about it. While I realize there is more story within the LN source material (which I plan to read later) this first season never felt as though it went anywhere and I never felt compelled enough to care. No matter how high stakes seemed to be I never really felt any like there was anything to legitimately worry about. That also leads into a bit of a problem Izayoi has: he's too perfect. As refreshing as his antics may be, he doesn't seem to have any weakness or any personality traits that could make him feel a bit more human. Its nice to have a smart main character, but even smart people make mistakes and aren't on top of everything. Even superman has a weakness and Batman had his share of bad days(I'm not exactly a comic book fanatic, but I've heard he had a pretty bad run in with someone who crippled him once) It doesn't help that we don't know what the heck his power is, all I know from spoilers is that he can apparently destroy a star, but that really doesn't lead us anywhere. As a certain someone from Hunter x Hunter put it: 'you can't have that much power without giving up something'. Or you know, something along those lines.
All in All I still like the show, but it seriously needs to fix somethings to be a better series. After all the last thing I want is for Izayoi to go from fun and refreshing to grating and obnoxious.
Kotoura-san: Lets get this elephant out of the room right now: Episode 11 SUCKED.
While there wasn't exactly an issue I had with the serial attacker being too obvious, the execution of such and how the problem was dealt with was so lack luster that it's worthy of face palming into your keyboard. While I may write out these sections I don't find myself to be much of a critic who can be come off as critical about each and every detail, but THAT was simply bad.
Fortunately it was only one episode and the actually last episode pretty much reminded me why I even liked this show so much to begin with: the relationship between Manabe and Kotoura. Not only are they entertaining to watch together but its a bit heart warming as well: through out the series Manabe has been shown to genuinely care and love Kotoura, knowing when its time to stop pushing a joke and actually care about Kotura herself and Kotura herself feeling the same. The relation between Mifune and Muroto was also very interesting, Muroto acting as something of Mifune's consciousness and the times when it shows how much he means to her. I think the only character here who doesn't really get that amount of sympathy is Moritani as its sort of hard to ignore what she did in the beginning of the series and even though the anime tries to make us forgive her it's hardly effective(though the anime does the great job in torturing her after she joins the club for awhile). That feeling of genuine emotion goes hand in hand with the balance it has with its comedy which really hits (at least to me, comedy and humor are subjective) and is aware of what the story itself is. That's what makes episode 11 so frustrating, as it makes you wonder if the series really can keep that sort of balance when it slipped up so badly. I would love to read the source material to confirm this, but for now I'd rather remember it for what it did right, as it managed that for at least 11 episodes(oh the irony).
Oreshura: After some episodes of typical harem shenanigans we actually get Masuzu's arc, which wasn't quite what I was thinking it would be but this worked just fine as well.
Usually once we get to the last episode we get some sort of faux drama or recap episode that simply lets you know that "everything is the same as always". This show however didn't do that... exactly. Basically, Masuzu's had enough of pretending and decides to let Eita go so he could be happy with people who actually love him, since she can't bring herself to act that way towards people who were actually kind to her. Eita can't weasel is way out of this like most MC's because he hears Chiwa AND Himeka confess to him in front of a large and massive crowd (Ai didn't exactly get an announcement, but I think Eita already got the picture) so when Masuzu goes up on stage to announce that she and Eita 'broke up', Eita stops her and drops the ultimate bombshell: he announces that he loves her, and everyone in the crowd re cements them as a couple...mostly.
While we are back to the way things were in a sense, its a lot more obvious now that things will be going in a much different direction and because of that the ending feels all the more satisfying. Because Eita is actually more aware of his standings there will actually be something to look forward to should this series get a season 2(BTW, the anime has covered four volumes of the so far 6 volume series)
|We're right back to where we started...perfect!|
|Dera really needs to take a lesson from Luffy: everything that lives and talks poops.|
And so it ends....alright...
So basically all of that stuff about the prince finding a wife really doesn't mean much of shit anymore and in the end we get a standard conclusion where Dera JUST MIGHT leave, but doesn't due to some wacky means. All is well and they lived happily ever after, the end. All right, to be honest its not like this is a bad ending or anything, but for me, they usually work best like this: I genuinely get to like the characters, and the final episode makes me get ready to miss them and their antics. While I consider this show to be a step above K-on, it's still only a step. I don't think I'll particularly miss it or care if there's a 2nd season or not. I don't find it to be a bad show, I did like Dera and some of the goofy antics the towns people would occasionally bring, but I wouldn't say I loved the show either. It actually leaves me a bit puzzled as to why I bothered to keep up with this show when the show I did drop had much more obvious plot constructing going on. Oh well, it entertained me for the moment but it didn't really leave much of an impression on me...
...We'll see if the next Kyoani show does.
Hagenai Next: In the end, I stuck around because I was a stubborn bastard, and if you aren't Bleach or Fairy Tail, I'll at least try to see you out through the end. and to be honest...I was kind of surprised. I just figured the show would just stay into rom-com ecchi that went no where, but surprisingly we actually went somewhere.
Kodaka's ignorance towards the feelings of the female characters is actually being addressed as him pretending, Sena makes a move and Rika's a bit more serious...its somewhat jarring really. I could say that this came out of left field, but if I recalled correctly some of Kodaka's narration was in the tone of him recalling something before a bigger event happened and some of the scuffles between Sena and Yozora haven't all been played for laughs (I think my favorite episode was when Sena called Yozora out during their initial film making episode) and as I said before, Rika has been getting more and more serious about Kodaka's interactions with the club. The last two episodes were the most surprising and satisfying and it makes me hope that when the next light novel(s?) comes out we get an OVA or something accompanying it. Otherwise I wouldn't mind tracking the source down to read it.
Don't let what I just said however give you the wrong impression, as a whole only those latter episodes were really enjoyable and the beginning was rather dull to me. In fact, much like the end of season one, what has this show on my good side is the promise of what's to come. I could say I liked this more than season 1, but in all honesty that's not saying much, especially when Yozora is a bit more likable.
All in all the winter season had three shows that I really liked and four that I would like to see more of, not bad for the 'weakest season' of the year if I do say so myself. These weren't the only shows I was watching though as I did have some carry overs from the fall season(Robotics;Notes, Psycho Pass, Little Busters etc...) but I think I'll just give them their own reviews at some point rather than shove them in here, especially considering some of those shows may or may not have more content to take into account. I'll have my spring season first impressions up when I see at least two episodes of each of the shows I plan to watch(No, I'm not covering Flowers of Evil, I'll wait a bit to see where that heads first) so til then;