Winter may not be bright, but things are looking up a little.
The weekend premiere deluge is at last at an end, so Panning posts should come a little slower and less frantically for the next couple days. It was a matter of quantity over quality, that’s for darn sure, but out of the muddy stream comes, if not a pile of gold nuggets, then at least an edible fish or two. Hit the jump for a trio whose caliber varies as wildly as their settings.
Studio: Studio 3Hz, Orange
Based on: The manga by Iwahara Yuuji
Streaming On: Funimation (U.S./Canada)
In a Sentence: In a near-future where humanity has found a way to tap into inexhaustible energy via “Coils,” Collector Mabuchi finds himself entangled with a girl connected to the man who discovered this energy in the first place.
How was it? Good! YAY.
As you can perhaps tell from that convoluted “in a sentence” description, Dimension W is a multi-layered, fully realized SF future that wastes no time diving right into its story and characters. The episode itself does a much better job explaining its world than I did, teasing out details as it goes in a way that’s surprisingly graceful and coherent given just how much is laid out in 22-odd minutes of action-focused narrative.
The story seems to be following two primary characters: Mabuchi, one of those rare adult anime protagonists, and Mira, a less-rare anime robot girl. Barring some very mild but out-of-place fanservice, I really don’t have any complaints about this one. It’s well animated, confidently narrated, and revealed just enough about its game and players to pique interest and encourage me to come back for more. And really, when push comes to shove, that’s all I ask of my pilots.
On the Fence
Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash (Hai to Gensou no Gurimugaru)
There are a few things I quite like about this one, particularly the look, as Grimgar is lush with gorgeous storybook backgrounds and attractive, soft-edged character designs. The premise seems to be another gamers-trapped-in-an-MMO story, but with some important distinctions—the cast has no memory of how they arrived here so they don’t know they’re in a game, and the focus is on low-level players trying to survive rather than top-tier teams—that help it stand out from the pack. So, basically, the Grimgar packaging is real shiny.
The actual content is much shakier: The first half has a restrained, quiet tone that rides the line between melancholy (good) and dull (bad), and the second is irritatingly full of light novel cliches involving its female characters’s breast sizes and fanservicey camera angles (although I did like that the flamboyantly gay character refused to put up with any homophobic BS). Since this was a lot of set-up and very little plot, and since this is shaping up to be a mighty slim season, I think I’ll give it one more to see if it can drop its skeevy, more cliched elements and build a proper story. No promises beyond that, though.
I’m still trying to decide if Schnitzelmachshnell is so bad it’s good or just plain bad, but from its convoluted premise (alt-history East/West Germany but also with MECHA! and also with ALIENS!) to its hideous CG monsters to its water-balloon-boobed ladies to its absurd implication that the guy who thinks PTSD-riddled teens shouldn’t go to battle is the real asshole around here, Schwarzbiergarten is a big hot mess. The thing is, it’s a pretty entertaining hot mess, shifting between bloody battles and conspiracy theories with grimdark abandon. Could this be the awesomely awful show of the season? Only another episode will tell me for certain.