Up to this point, this season is batting a thousand in my book; everything I’ve watched up to this point has merited at least 2 more episodes on my own more or less arbitrary scale.* In many ways, it’s already fulfilled its “five fun shows with a genre spread” quota and is already looking for bonus points. The first of which will be coming from Sunday’s lineup, which included a slightly-larger-than-bite-size comedy, a mid-major occult show, and a pair of shows, one original and one via Comic Earth Star, drawing from Japan’s most famous general. All of them were varying degrees of promising, so I’m pretty set for the weekend this Winter.
Tonari no Seki-kun’s first episode showed off a fair amount of both upside and downside. One one hand, it was definitely amusing to watch a somewhat absurdly ADD kid build a professional-tier domino road of erasers that led to an imaginary explosion. On the other hand, it seemed to come down a bit hard on the female lead; the half of comedy that wasn’t dramatic eraser stacking was essentially her getting called out on something he did. I don’t really see the humor in that, and I hope it’s not a significant part of the show. For now, I think it’s got enough charm to merit 2 more weeks of leeway.
The opening minutes of Noragami felt similar to Code Breaker in a few key ways, introducing a comparatively normal female protagonist who meets up with a guy in the supernatural pest control business. The key difference being that this male lead had a significantly more likeable personality that was equal parts petty and attempted cool, something that very much built off the fact that he shares voices with the most entertaining male harem protagonist of the last 5 years. That, and the Yu Yu Hakusho twist where the lead heroine became a ghost and gained spiritual senses mixed in a nice tone of mysterious that added to the story’s appeal. This one is easily worth 2 more episodes.
Nobunagun felt a lot like a series with an ideas/execution gap. It definitely took some stabs at establishing a visual style, but the presentation came across as somewhat disjointed. I’m willing to give some leeway to the director for now, seeing as he’s never been the point man on a full series before; his biggest prior credits were being Junichi Sato’s replacement on Sergent Frog and directing the Kekko Kamen OVA. The color schemes, at least, were pleasant, and the plot has low-level ambition in a B-action kind of way. What felt off about the show may have been more due to line timing/voice acting than visuals, a possibility made more likely by the fact that the leading lady has exactly zero other voice credits on ann. However, it does feel like the staff and cast had legit fun hamming up, and their being motivated can be a pretty big x-factor when the chips are down and Oda Nobunaga is laughing to Pay Money To My Pain.** I’ll need more time to take its pulse, so this one is on a week-by-week status.
The other Nobunaga show opened up with obvious A-list ambition, teasing a bunch of things in the first 3 minutes with a scene Karmicly bonding Oda Nobunaga with Joan of Arc, plus a big monologue setting up the basics of the world. Not to mention it showed off steampunky mecha designs that probably took more budget than every single character design in Nobunagun. The show initially felt like it was steeped in expository dialogue way more than it had to be, but it quickly ditched the terminology for the arrival of a low-stakes invading army that got things going a bit. The East/Oda plotline flowed a lot smoother than the West/Jeanne plotline, though if past experience with Shoji Kawamori is any indication, they’re going to be a bit more clear when they’re overlapping like a helix by the time the show hits its halfway point. I don’t like the naming characters after historical figures aspect of the show; the way it’s being done is extremely gimmicky, especially with as many characters as this episode introduced. Too, a lot of those characters were introduced in 2-second video clips that came off as fairly shallow attempts at foreshadowing. Compared to Nobunagun, there’s a lot more ways this could be great and a lot more ways it could go south. I’m splitting the difference and watching it on a week-by-week basis as well.
*For all I know, the magical chastity belt show might be funny as well. It’s not my policy to dump on things I haven’t seen.
**Needless and Scryed basically lived off of that sort of thing, and I loved ’em for it.