Hello Ikebukuro, my old friend.
There’s a flipping mountain of sequels and carryovers this season, so I won’t spend a ton of time on them all, but I did want to touch base with the shows that came back, and let everyone know what I will and won’t be watching (at least for the time being – if the new winter shows prove disappointing, it’s not impossible that I’ll finally get around to trying out Log Horizon or Fafner, but I wouldn’t put any bets on it).
Familiar faces below the jump!
Kamisama Kiss – Season 2 (Kamisama Hajimemashita◎)
Studio: TMS Entertainment
Based On: The manga by Julietta Suzuki
Sequel To: Kamisama Kiss (13 episodes)
Streaming On: Funimation (US/Canada), Crunchyroll (here’s a link to the list of regions)
In a Sentence: After homeless high schooler Nanami Momozono accidentally becomes a “land god” at the local rundown shrine, she must work with the shrine’s spirits – including temperamental familiar, Tomoe – to develop her burgeoning supernatural abilities.
How was it? Charming as ever.
After a lightning-quick recap, Season 2 of KamiKiss picks up pretty much right where Season 1 left off, as Nanami struggles with her newfound feelings for Tomoe, deals with the latest nasty spirit that’s cropped up at school, and learns about a few new godly powers along the way. Otohiko joins the story this week (I admit that Otohiko’s treatment is problematic, but dammit, I really do like the character) to drop a little plot on us, as there’s a meeting of the gods coming up and Tomoe’s eligible to take Mikage’s place – assuming she can pass a divinity test first.
All of which is to say that KamiKiss continues to deftly mix Shinto mythology with shoujo romantic comedy, and Nanami’s (very) gradual transformation from hapless damsel to powerful deity (coupled with Tomoe’s ongoing abandonment issues) provide a good, solid backbone of a central character arc and conflict through which all the other characters and conflicts can intermingle. It’s an extremely pleasant way to spend 30 minutes a week, and it’s nice to have it back.
Did it make the watchlist? Most definitely.
Tokyo Ghoul – Season 2 (Tokyo Ghoul √A)
Based On (“Inspired by”?): The manga by Ishida Sui
Sequel To: Tokyo Ghoul (12 episodes)
Streaming On: Funimation (US/Canada)
In a Sentence: College student Kaneki Ken finds himself dragged into the frightening world of ghouls – powerful humanoid creatures who feast on human flesh.
How was it? Picked up right where the last season left off and promised some major changes for our cast in the coming weeks.
The story goes that what we’re getting in the Tokyo Ghoul anime is the “original outline” for Ishida’s manga – in fact, Ishida is helping with the scripts, so he’s definitely given his blessing for this version. Presumably this is because the original write-up is a shorter, possibly completed story, whereas the TG manga is still technically ongoing (well, TG itself ended, but there’s a sequel series starting now? It’s a little strange). But what this means is that we’re heading into uncharted territory for both anime-only and manga-reading viewers alike.
I’m in the former category, so I don’t have to worry about comparisons, and I thought this was a solid episode, picking up right where last season’s cliffhanger left off and then setting the stage for the next chapter in the saga. It was mostly multiple action scenes, but TG continues to be well-animated and -directed on that front, handling itself with style (and occasional beauty, as shown in that final snowy sequence). It’s too early to say if this season is going to suffer from the same issues as the last one, but so far, so good.
Did it make the watchlist? I rarely found myself riveted by the first season of Tokyo Ghoul (and sometimes I didn’t much like it at all), but there was always just enough there that I ended up coming back to watch the next episode. We’ll see if Season 2 can make a true fan out of me, or if I’ll be forever on the fence again.
Aldnoah.Zero – Season 2
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Original Series: Directed by Aoki Ei (Fate/Zero, Coyote Ragtime Show) and written by Takayama Katsuhiko (Future Diary, ef); original concept by Urobochi Gen (Fate/Zero, Madoka Magica)
Streaming On: Crunchyroll (North America, Central and South America, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Ireland, Europe excluding German-speaking territories)
In a Sentence: Fifteen years after a brutal battle between Earth and the Vers Empire that left the moon in ruins, tensions build and finally explode after a Vers Princess arrives on Earth.
How was it? Ohhhh, Aldnoah.Zero.
Well, all my issues with the end of the last season are still present, but with a vengeance: There are some impressive leaps in logic, phenomenal asspulls, and a main character who could easily be the pic for “Gary Stu” on TVTropes. But I’ll give A/Z credit: It commits to its nonsense, and even seems aware of it (giving their robot-like protagonist an actual robotic implementation is too perfect), pitching itself into exciting action sequences and ridiculous plot twists with wild abandonment. It’s impossible for me to take this show seriously anymore, but it’s still damn entertaining, largely because it’s so hard to predict – “trollish ballsiness” was the phrase I coined in my Season 1 review, and that still very much holds true.
Did it make the watchlist? Sure, what the hell? I might as well ride this crazy train to its destination (even if it’s looking more and more like that destination will be right off a cliff). If nothing else, it should be a hell of a lot of fun.
Based On: The light novel series by Narita Ryohgo (Baccano!)
Streaming On: Crunchyroll (North America, Central America, South America, Ireland, and the United Kingdom)
In a Sentence: A diverse cast populates this fantastical reimagining of Ikebukuro, where headless riders roam the streets, “color gangs” vie for power, and no one is who they say they are.
How was it? Didn’t skip a beat – it’s just as fun and slick and strange as I remembered.
I quite liked the first season of Durarara!! (though not nearly as much as I loved the other Narita adaptation, Baccano), but I confess to liking the second half of Season 1 a whole lot less than the first half, as I felt it lost a lot of momentum and focus down the stretch. Even so, it was generally interesting and usually quite entertaining, mixing storylines and chronologies, exploring how Internet and the media affect our world – and particularly how we create and balance multiple identities – with style and an effortless sense of coolness. Plus Narita has a knack for writing a whole bunch of distinctive, memorable personalities, and its those characters who make his works so easy to like.
This premiere sets the groundwork for some potential plots, but it’s really more of a reintroduction to both the people and story structure, as the tale jumps back and forth through time and bounces between characters with frenetic glee. There’s not quite enough here to really know what we’ll be getting this season, but it’s still Ikebukuro, it’s still Celty and Izaya and Kida and Shizuo and the whole gang, and that was enough to make me positively giddy by the end credits. Welcome back, Durarara. It’s good to see you again.
Did it make the watchlist? Oh yeah, no question.
Carryovers I’m Watching
No need to review these since I talked about them in my Fall 2014 Retrospective, but I’m still watching the following:
- Parastye -the maxim- (Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu)
- Sailor Moon: Crystal
- Your Lie in April (Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso)
- Yona of the Dawn (Akatsuki no Yona)
- Yowapeda (Yowamushi Pedal: Grand Roade)
And of course I’m still watching Sailor Moon as Viz (re)releases the episodes on Hulu.
Carryovers and Sequels I’m Not Watching
Just as a heads-up, the following are airing this season, but I won’t be watching them because I’ve never seen the originals – although some of them I want to, so depending on how many winter shows stay on my schedule, this may change. For now, though, assume I won’t be posting on these.
- Tantei Opera Milky Holmes TD
- Fafner Exodus (Soukyou no Fafner: Dead Aggressor – Exodus)
- iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls
- Jojo – Stardust Crusaders 2
- Log Horizon 2
- Magic Kaito 1412
- Sanzoku Musume Ronja
- Shounen Hollywood 2
- Dog Days”
- Cross Ange
- Kuroko no Basket 3
- World Trigger
- Seven Deadly Sins (Nanatsu no Taizai)
- Go! Princess Precure