Panning the Stream: Assassination Classroom, KanColle, Testament of Sister New Devil, Saekano

Well, one of out of four ain’t… okay, actually, yeah. It’s pretty bad.

I’m watching Death Parade as soon as I add this post to my queue because I suspect (hope!) it will warrant a full meet ‘n’ greet, too, but since that first day of Magical Boy and Bear excitement, the trickle of new winter shows has been pretty uninspiring. Fortunately we’ve got some good sequels and carryovers, or I’d be getting downright depressed.

In this post, we’ve got one ball of strangeness with some potential to at least be pretty fun (and possibly more than that), and past that a whole bunch of generic, fanservice-y bores. But let’s start with the potential, so we don’t all feel too depressed going into our weekend.

Assassination Classroom (Ansatsu Kyoushitsu)

Studio: Lerche
Based On:
The manga by Matsui Yusei
Streaming On:
Funimation (US/Canada)

In a Sentence: A tentacled creature blows up the moon and promises to do the same to the earth in one year – unless a class full of stragglers and outcasts can kill him first.

How was it? The premise is absurd, but the execution is clever with a touch of sweetness, so… yeah. I kinda really liked it.

Overall
This is apparently the season for either crank-turning bores or over-the-top weirdness, and thank goodness for that second category. Assassination Classroom may just look good in comparison to the other new shows I watched, or it might actually have a certain charm and style to it. For now, I’m going with the latter. You really have to check your sense of reality at the door with this one – it slaps you with its premise in the first 10 minutes and then goes from there, and if you’re not on board with that premise then there probably won’t be much here you’ll like. Thankfully my Suspension of Disbelief Bridge is built of sturdy steel and can handle just about anything, so I rolled with the absurdity.

Once you do, you discover that there’s actually a surprisingly warm heart beating beneath the assassination story line – the students all have their own baggage as the forgotten “E” class, and “Koro Sensei” actually seems to care about their well-being (for all that he promises to destroy them in 12 months). There are enough characters and the hints of backstories that we might get something here that’s more than just flying yellow teachers and their gun-toting students (although not gonna lie, that part’s a whole lot of fun, too). I have no idea if this can hold up over multiple episodes, but at this point I’m happy to give it a try.

Did it make the watchlist? I’ll give it the Rule of Three and then reevaluate, but if it keeps doing what it’s doing, I could easily see it being an entertaining part of my week.

Dropped

KanColle (Kantai Collection: Kan Colle)

For a show whose premise is “boat-people attack the oceans and the only people who can fight them are a bunch of girls with the souls of famous battleships,” this was a shockingly boring premiere. Based on some preair buzz, I had a feeling it wouldn’t be my cup of tea, but I figured it would at least be interesting in a “WTF” kind of way. Instead, the word that comes to mind is “generic”: Bland, cutesy girl characters, uninspired art and animation, and a pretty standard “training academy” premise. I kept zoning out, which is never a good thing to happen during a premiere. So yeah, I’m out, here.

The Testament of Sister New Devil (Shinmai Maou no Keiyakusha)

4 minutes and 10 seconds. That is how far I made it into this show before my thumb smashed down on the Stop button. I’m not sure if that’s a new record, but it’s pretty darn close. About the only good thing I can say for this ball of fanservice is that at least it was in-your-face and upfront about it, so I knew to bail sooner rather than later.

Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend (Saenai Heroine no Sodate-kun)

Supposedly Saekano is about a club working on creating a homemade video game, but near as I can tell, it’s about a bunch of girls throwing themselves at a guy to the point of assaulting him. Watching shows like these always makes me think of how we’d respond if the roles were reversed – i.e., a bunch of guys aggressively throwing themselves on a girl who is clearly no interested in them – and, personally, I’m just as unsettled either way. There’s also a lot of self-deprecating “humor” throughout, but calling attention to your own tired tropes without doing anything new with them doesn’t accomplish much.

Overall I was into the premise but couldn’t stand the execution. Even so, there was a sense to the script/direction that we were eventually going to get to the point, so rather than stopping it I actually skipped ahead to the last five minutes, which seemed to smooth out into a fairly pleasant romantic comedy, but… Yeah, no. Unless I start hearing rave reviews, I won’t be back for this one.

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