First impressions roundup: Winter 2018

Woohoo, all the first episodes of the season have aired! My life got a bit busier after all the snow cleared near me and I had to go back to work and catch up on some personal things, but I’m (mostly) all caught up now.

There’s some interesting stuff this season after all – I was skeptical, and since last season was so phenomenally good and spoiled us all, I went into Winter 2018 with low expectations. So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by some entries and let down by others. I didn’t get a chance to blog about all my first impressions, but here’s a quick rundown of the shows I watched and how I felt about ’em.

Heaven Zone

Sora yori mo tooi basho

I wrote a whole thing on episode one! I’m really impressed with this so far, and will definitely be watching it through the season. It’s very well directed, and a lot of thought and love was put into every shot of episode one. God bless you, Madhouse. I’m also happy to see the talented Atsuko Ishizuka working on a series that I can actually get into. (No Game No Life was equally well-directed, but wow, did I hate the actual story/characters.)

Devilman Crybaby

Does this count as a seasonal? I guess not, since it’s a Netflix produced original series that didn’t really “air.” I watched the entire series while I was snowed-in and wow. Wow, I loved it so much. If you love yourself (and if you don’t mind excessive gore/sex), watch Devilman Crybaby. I haven’t made a full post about it yet because honestly, I don’t even know where to start. I’ll probably write a few things about it, because I was really impressed with how it managed to be a story about love and humanity and friendship while simultaneously being exploitative and ridiculously over-the-top. It also features a greek chorus of J-rappers, which is something I kind of need to talk about.

Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card

Ahhhhhhhh I didn’t get to watch this the day it came out because I got snowed-out and had to finally go back to work, and then I put it off specifically so that I would have time to fully enjoy it. I love it. I love it so much. I love it so much that I don’t think I can write about it yet, because it would just be incoherent keyboard mashing. I can say that so far, it’s very faithful to its source material and holds the same innocently charming ambiance that I remember.

Purgatory Zone

Yuru Camp

I wrote a bit about this one’s first episode, too. It’s cute. It’s pretty. It’s exactly what I expected it to be. There’s nothing objectionable here, and it’s very good at being what it aims to be – a relaxing escapist CGDCT show. I liked episode one, but I don’t know if I like it enough to want to watch it every week throughout the whole season. We shall see.

Citrus

My body has been ready for this trashy nonsense for months. I didn’t mention it in my first blog post much, but episode one had a really good balance of lighthearted comedy and soap opera drama. Yuzu is also a very good main character, and there are some surprisingly beautiful shots in the first two episodes. However, I am very much not a fan of the way the anime is heightening the sexual assault aspects of Mei and Yuzu’s relationship – something that was present in the manga, but not to this extent. I’m going to watch it but…I don’t know if I’m going to like it as much as I expected to.

Junji Ito Collection

Ito’s style must be difficult to emulate since he puts sosososo much time into each manga panel, and naturally the designs in the anime are nowhere near as intricate. Still, I think it’s acceptable. The voice acting for Souichi in episode one was spot-on, and the creepier characters in episode two also sounded sufficiently creepy, so I think that these adaptations will successfully add some new layers to each beloved, creepy story. I never expected it to be revolutionary or to really match its source material in intensity, so my expectations have been met.

Pop Team Epic

Ah. I really expected to love this, because its brand of [adultswim] dadaist humor is usually My Thing, but…I’m not entirely sold. I’m going to keep watching and hope it grows on me, though. I do have to give it props for giving absolutely zero fucks, though. It was one ballsy premiere episode.

Takagi-san, the Master of Teasing

This one’s an endearing little tale of young love and the weird ways it manifests itself. Takagi has a crush on Nishikata and shows it by relentlessly teasing him. Nishikata tries to get back at her, but fails miserably. It made me smile, but deep down I can’t shake the thought that their budding relationship being based around humiliating or being humiliated is a little too kinky for their age. The fact that that’s a thought that crosses my mind might mean that this show is not for me, but I do recommend it to anyone looking for fluffy goodness, and to anyone who won’t feel the need to mentally kinkshame Takagi.

Kokkoku

I wrote about this one. It’s beautifully animated, but episode one felt a little off in the pacing department. Still, the sheer uniqueness of it has me intrigued. Nothing felt generic or overly archetypal, and I appreciate the fact that it didn’t begin by throwing an avalanche of overused anime tropes and trappings at its viewers.

Hell Zone

Darling in the FranXX

I did not like this at all! Studio Trigger anime tends to be very hit or miss with me, and I’m filing this one as a miss already. It feels like they’re going to rely too much on the “here’s this crazy girl’s titties” angle. Hot-blooded excessively heterosexual series like these generally aren’t my thing. But I will watch it anyways, because it’s the hype show! You can read about my reservations here, if you so wish.

Basilisk: The Ouka Ninja Scrolls

The first episode was just a bunch of ninja kids fighting. Two of the characters are the son and daughter of the main characters from the OG series, and side characters were talking about how they needed to “bed” each other to keep their bloodline alive. Ew. I generally am not a fan of the character designs, and actually found the original series to be rather boring despite the constant action and violence. The story felt like it had been hastily slapped together, and I didn’t particularly care about any of the characters. My boyfriend is into the original Basilisk, though, so I’ll probably end up catching a lot of this one whether I like it or not.

After the Rain

No thank you! This story about a high schooler falling in love with her adult boss looks like it’s going to be a pedophile-apologist thing, and I’m not really interested. I wrote about it here.


Once again, I’ve checked out way too many shows, so soon I’ll have to pare it down. I still haven’t watched Violet Evergarden, but right now, I can’t get over the fact that that’s actually the main character’s name and not just a flowery title. I know for sure that I’ll be following CitrusSora yori mo tooi basho, and Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card throughout the season. Everything else…well, we’ll see. I never even finished the stuff I liked from last season!

2 thoughts on “First impressions roundup: Winter 2018

  1. Reading your thoughts on the Winter 2018 Season was fun. You’re totally right about the Greek chorus of freestylin’ J-Rappers. They were actually pretty good in my opinion…

    Loved the category names, too!

    Hopefully you can continue to enjoy the Winter 2018 anime season. Maybe some shows in Purgatory Zone can jump into Heaven Zone!

    Like

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