The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Tag Archives: Season preview

Spring 2016 Anime and Leap Year 2016

“There was no such thing as a fair fight. All vulnerabilities must be exploited.” – Cary Caffrey

In the blink of an eye, winter has passed by quite quickly, and we’re now around a month from spring, a season best known for rebirth, when the landscape comes alive as trees bud and flowers begin blooming. This also means that I’m now past the halfway point into the semester, which has been busier than any term I’ve experienced (as my previous posts incessantly attest). Consequently, Aokana is the only Winter 2016 anime that I’m up to date with; the others, I’ve not even reached the three episode mark yet. However, while my anime situation is a little bleak, the same is thankfully not true for my other commitments. Looking ahead to the Spring 2016 offerings, there are two television series that catch my eye: Hai-Furi and Flying Witch. In the movies and OVA department, Girls und Panzer Der Film occupies the spotlight (along with two new OVAs that are to accompany the movie’s home release), with Tamayura ~Graduation Photo~ also being of great interest. This lighter spring season for me will be gratefully accepted, as I continue to gear up in preparation for my thesis defense.

  • Even with a Retina display, one would be hard-pressed to try and read the text from the image here, so as I’ve done for all previous season preview posts, clicking on it will bring up the full resolution version, which is optimised for 1080p displays.

As I have done for the Winter 2016 season, I will be blogging about at most two shows for the “after three” reviews, and for the whole-season discussions, a maximum of four shows will be covered. At the time of writing, this won’t be too insurmountable a challenge, given that there’s only two anime on my radar thus far. Quite similarly, I may also pick up and drop shows based on how they turn out after three episodes have passed. Now that the usual boilerplate is done, this spring 2016 preview will differ from previous seasons in that, because today is a leap day, I’ll go off-mission to talk real briefly about said leap day. Four years ago, I wrote a simple function that returns a boolean value for whether or not a year was a leap year. I’ve ported that psuedocode to Java code and gave it proper syntax highlighting below:


public boolean isLeapYear(int year)
{
  if ((year % 4 == 0) && (year % 100 != 0) || (year % 400 == 0))
  {
    return true;
  }

  else
  {
    return false;
  }
}

It’s a little surprising to reflect on the fact that four years have elapsed so quickly. Four years ago during the winter term, I was enrolled in introductory biochemistry, introductory cell and molecular biology and bioinformatics. That semester proved to be reasonably enjoyable, although it also left behind numerous memories: I fondly remember days where my classes ended before noon. As the semester drew to a close, I would come home earlier to study for exams and watched Angel Beats! during this time. So much has happened since then, and it will be interesting (as well as intimidating) to see where things will go over the next four years. Now, we return to regular programming.

Hai-Furi

After plate tectonics resulted in major portions of landmass receding beneath the oceans, Japan created a new initiative to save the remaining nations. To this end, the Blue Mermaids were founded to keep the seas traversable, and aspiring to be Blue Mermaids themselves, childhood friends Misaki Akeno and China Moeka enroll at Yokosuka’s Marine high school with the shared goal of turning their dreams into reality.

  • The combination of moé elements and a unique world ripe with opportunity for world-building means that Hai-Furi could be similar to Sora no Woto in terms of atmosphere, exploring the consequences of a world following major tectonic activity through the viewpoints of two optimistic youth. Moreover, while the premise only describes two of the protagonists, there do seem to be a large number of characters, all of whom might play a role later on in the anime.

Flying Witch

Aomori is a northern region in Japan blessed by nature’s bountiful beauty, although it is here that bizarre events begin occurring. This brings 15-year-old Makoto Kowata, a witch, to the region. Leaving Yokohama with Chito, her black cat, she takes up accommodations with her relatives in Aomori and begins investigating these mysteries while training to become a more capable witch.

  • Aomori is, in my opinion, one of the more mysterious places in Japan for its relatively low population density and remoteness. In short, it appears to be the perfect place for a mystery to take place, and admittedly, I am interested in Flying Witch on the rather superficial basis that I would be quite interested to see a fictional depiction of a prefecture otherwise not widely used in most anime.

Winter 2016 Anime

“I think there are certain business matters which we must now conduct differently than we used to.” — Vince McMahon

Winter solstice is less than a month away, and I find myself amazed at just how quickly time’s flown by: it only seems like yesterday that the Fall 2015 anime season was beginning. Things have come quite a way since then, and since my last season preview, my model is mostly finished, with major bugs largely ironed out and most of the functionality is implemented. This means that I now set my sights on writing the meat-and-potatoes of my graduate thesis, as well as upcoming conferences in 2016. Only a month remains in the fall season now, and this term, I’ve only been following Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?? with any semblance of regularity. It’s the first time I’ve done episodic reviews, and although they’re rather exhausting (each post takes around three hours from start to finish), they’ve also been quite fun to write. With that being said, I’ll get around to writing for Yuru Yuri San☆Hai in the two-reflection format, as well. I am going to miss Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?? once the fall season ends, but with the previews for winter now available, it’s appropriate to consider what I will be watching over the course of the next season, which seems filled to the brim with anime that appear to have worthy premises. In alphabetical order, Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm, Dagashi Kashi, Hai to Gensou no Grimgar, HaruChika: Haruta to Chika wa Seishun Suru and Musaigen no Phantom World have caught my eye for weekly anime, and in the OVA department, Tamayura: Graduation Photo‘s fourth and final volume will be coming out on February 20. For movies, Glass no Hana to Kowasu Sekai will be releasing in January for Japanese cinema, although this will mean that for folks outside of Japan, the movie itself will make it to home release by around July-September 2016.

Winter 2015/2016 Anime Chart v1

  • As usual, clicking on the image will yield the full-resolution version, optimised for viewing in a 1080p screen (it actually looks quite fuzzy on the MacBook Pro). There are a lot of shows I’m finding that I’m watching after the season’s ended for them: at present, I’m watching Gekko Gurashi! and find that the series merits a proper review once I finish. Thus, rather than reviewing shows as they air, I’ll do that with one or two that catch my attention per season, and write about the others as time permits, if there are merits that make them stand out.

For the upcoming season, I will be doing things slightly differently: the shows I’m listing are the ones I’m expressing an interest in watching, rather than blogging. As noted earlier, episodic blogging is remarkably time-consuming, and Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?? was both a chance for me to try out the episodic format and intended to yield insightful articles into an anime that might otherwise be considered as purely “cute girls doing cute things”. So, during Winter 2016, I’ll watch the shows that capture my interest, and depending on how they turn out after three episodes, give it a review. This means that I could wind up blogging about all of the anime listed, anime I may have not listed, a combination thereof, or none at all. The basis for this is that my own schedule is going increase in intensity: I plan on graduating in the upcoming year, and if I need additional hours in a day to push my Master’s Thesis to completion, blogging will be the first activity to be set aside.

Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm

In a world where flying is as simple as riding a bicycle, there is a popular sport called “Flying Circus”. The protagonist once had a bright future ahead of him in that field of sports but due to an overwhelming defeat and a hitherto unspecified reason, he has left the sport behind. However, he meets the transfer student Kurashina Asuka and regains his passion as he teaches her how to fly. With his situation changed, he participates once again in the Flying Circus with Asuka at his side to test his limits. This is a love story about the two who met while soaring in the skies, and the friends surrounding them.

Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm

  • Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm was based off a visual novel and consequently, will invariably feature a love tesseract. There appear to be science fiction elements that could add a new faucet to the love story, although whether or not Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm is able to retain its appeal will be tied to how the protagonist is presented. A character like CLANNAD‘s Tomoya Okazaki or Kanon‘s Yuichi Aizawa could make for a male lead whose easy to relate to and even create a highly engaging story. Conversely, a male lead resembling SaeKano‘s Tomoya Aki or Infinite Stratos‘ Ichika Orimura in character may cause me to rage-quit on day one.

Dagashi Kashi

Kokonotsu Shikada’s father owns a rural sweets shop, and his plan is for Kokonotsu to take it over one day. However, Kokonotsu wants to be a manga author instead! One day in summer, the cute but weird girl Shidare Hotaru, from the famous sweets company, comes to pay a visit. Apparently, Kokonotsu’s father is famous and she wants him to join her family’s company. However, he will only agree if she can convince Kokonotsu to take over the family business.

Dagashi Kashi

  • I’ve always been a fan of anime in rural settings, and truth be told, Dagashi Kashi almost feels like an anime that focusses on Non Non Biyori‘s Kaede, who is known as “Candy Store” in-show. Pegged as a comedy, it’ll be interesting to see how the dynamics between Kokonotsu and Hotaru will play out: the setup strongly hints that romance might just be the outcome.

Hai to Gensou no Grimgar

Before Haruhiro had realized what happened, he was surrounded by darkness. Why was he here? Where was here? Even now, he still didn’t know. Those around him were the same as him, no one remembered anything other than their own names. And when they emerged from the darkness, the world that awaited them seemed like something out of a video game. In order to survive, Haruhiro forms a party with the others, learns fighting skills, and as a soldier in the reserve force, takes his first steps into the world of Grimgar.

Hai to Gensou no Grimgar

  • On the surface, Hai to Gensou no Grimgar feels like a variant of Sword Art Online: both anime are even done by A1 Pictures. However, from preliminary trailers, the world Hai no Gensou no Grimgar is quite enticing and conducive of adventure. Moreover, while this might be somewhat of a crude reason to watch it, I admit I am also pulled by the character and costume designs.

HaruChika: Haruta to Chika wa Seishun Suru

Haruta and Chika are members of their high school wind instrument club that is on the verge of being shut down. The two are childhood friends, and they spend their days practicing hard while also trying to recruit new members. When a certain incident happens within their school, they work together to solve it.

HaruChika

  • Over the past few years, P.A. Works has consistently shined when their anime are set in the real world, free of any supernatural elements: anime like Hanasaku IrohaTari Tari and Shirobako have been critically acclaimed, while Glasslip and Charlotte have been less favourably perceived. HaruChika looks like there won’t be any supernatural elements, so if its focus is going to be about two friends in the music club who become involved in mysteries, it could be interesting. The premise suggests an anime that will be quite different than Hibike! Euphonium, despite the presence of instruments.

Musaigen no Phantom World

In the near future, spirits and monsters are in full sight. A boy leads a group of people with special abilities as they plot against a massive organization that takes advantage of a major incident and eventually, learn the truth about their world.

Musaigen no Phantom World

  • While Musaigen no Phantom World does feel like P.A. Work’s Charlotte in some ways, it is derived from a light novel. Thus, I’m curious to see how Kyoto Animation will handle this: there is no doubt that the technical aspects of animation and sound quality will be exceptional, so it’ll boil down to how the narrative from the light novels are ported over. I am anticipating a reasonably well-done anime: in general, light novels always start out strong, but the narrative gradually weakens as time wears on. I do not know enough about Musaigen no Phantom World  to accurately predict where it will go, but this one does merit checking out.

Summer 2015 Anime

We’re about halfway into the Spring 2015 anime season now, and insofar, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the shows I’ve been following thus far. After sitting down to a fantastic dinner of bacon wrapped filet mignon with prawns and a fully-loaded baked potato tonight, I realised that we’re now around halfway into May, and therefore, also halfway into the Spring 2015 season. This far into the game, one must wonder… as the days lengthen and sunshine becomes an increasingly welcome guest in our days, which anime catches mine eye?

  • This is the earliest iteration of the anime chart out there, and typically, I do not update the chart unless something dramatic changes. Clicking on it brings up the full-sized version, and effective as of this preview, I’m going to go back and remove old anime charts more than a year old to conserve on storage space.

There is a single anime that immediately pops out: Non Non Biyori Repeat, which I will be following with great interest. Beyond this, there’s also Sore ga Seiyuu, Charlotte, and Wakaba * Girl, and . From the OVA end of things, the second episode of Tamayura: Graduation Photo will be airing in late August, and an Angel Beats! special. Taifuu no Noruda is a movie that looks quite interesting, as well, although being a movie, it’s likely that I won’t view it until next year, once the home release comes out. Of this list of anime (barring the OVAs), I’ll be blogging about only about Non Non Biyori Repeat and Sore ga Seiyuu as they air. Meanwhile, Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Takakaeri and Charlotte will get final reflections once they conclude. This could change as I revise the list of anime I plan on watching, but at present, I feel that the pleasant summer days would be better spent strolling along the riverside, driving to the mountains for a day trip or enjoying St. Louis-style ribs and chilli cheese fries à la Adam Richman of Man v. Food, hence the projected reduction in blogging.

Non Non Biyori Repeat

The second season of Non Non Biyori follows Hotaru Ichijou and her friendss’ daily lives in Asahigaoka, a remote and peaceful country village in Japan.

  • I’ve been waiting quite some time for this: the first season was an excellent anime that proved quite relaxing to watch, depicting an idyllic life in the countryside free of the pressures and stresses associated with living in urban areas. Non Non Biyori is an adaptation of the manga of the same name, so back in December, I took a look at the later chapters and speculated on what the second season could cover. Even with a rough knowledge of what could happen, animated adaptations have access to audio-visual elements that enhance the different events and moments, so in spite of this a priori knowledge, I’m certain that the second season will entertain and impress. As the only one of two anime I’ll likely blog as episodes are released, Non Non Biyori will follow the same format as Kantai Collection, with a total of five posts (one for the first episode, and one after every third episode subsequently).

Spring 2015 Anime

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” —Albert Einstein

They say that time flies when one is having fun, and two months into the winter academic term, I’ve finally gotten into the swing of things for the term’s schedule, which features far more evenings on campus than the previous term. Now that we’re onto the last week of February, we’re alsopast the halfway point for the Winter 2015 season. With the Vernal Equinox in less than a month, it’s would seem prudent to begin looking at what Spring 2015 has to offer with respect to anime. As noted in earlier posts, I’m barely managing to keep up with the Winter 2015 season, partly owing to my schedule and partly because there are several good anime, with ShirobakoIdolM@ster: Cinderella Girls, Kantai CollectionSaekano A,and Aldnoah.Zero amongst the list of things I’m watching. With the exception of IdolM@ster, I’m reasonably on top of all the shows and anticipate being able to get the final reflections out for each before April. This will be beneficial, since a cursory glance at the chart below suggests that Spring is going to be a busy season, with several interesting shows that catch my eye. However, before we go on to talk about the Spring 2015 anime, there is one special that released during the Winter 2015 block that I’ve yet to get around to watching: the Bokura Wa Minna Kawaisou OVA is something I’ve picked up and will be watching and discussing quite soon. There’s also the second Strike Witches Operation Victory Arrow OVA: dubbed Aege Kai no Megami (Goddess in the Aegean Sea), it’s set for release on March 13, and I will, as usual, have the internet’s first, best review for it.

  • My post streak continues with the Spring 2015 anime preview. This chart is not a complete version, but it does cover most of the anime projected for the Spring 2015 season. Just click on it to bring up a full-resolution copy. As per usual, I will be picking up and dropping shows as time and interests demand, although one thing should be obvious: I’m going to watch Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu in full without fail.

Such shows include Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu (The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki), Hello! Kiniro MosaicHibike! Emporium, Urawa no Usagi-chan, Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki (Knights of Sidonia: Battle for Planet Nine) and Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru Zoku (Oregairu Season 2). Right on the table, we have a show that I’ve long foreseen and have been greatly anticipating, this season’s go-to show for iyashikei, another Kyoto Animation anime that looks fun, and a science-fiction anime I watched last year. As well, anime’s Dark Knight makes a return as well, and with the second season speculated to be more romance-heavy, I’m curious to see which direction things will take. In addition, Tamayura ~Sotsugyou shashin~ will be airing as a movie on April 4. There are definitely several major titles in there, reflecting on the solid offerings of Spring 2015, and with six anime that I plan on following, one thing should be abundantly clear: given that this blog is a one-man show, attempting to blog six shows would be remarkably difficult nay impossible. Practicality dictates that I choose a handful of shows to blog. So…which anime should I talk about? I offer my assessments below: of the shows listed, these are the ones I’m presently looking to follow (and a brief justification of my choice). If there are specific shows that you, the readers, are looking for me to blog, just drop a comment below, and I will take that into consideration as to whether or not it makes the list of shows that will end up being written about here.

Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu

This is the long-awaited spin-off of The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, featuring Yuki as the main heroine. The story follows Yuki and Kyon, depicting their school life, club activities, colourful schoolmates, and the gradual beginnings of the romantic times that the two share together.

Disappearance of Nagato Yuki

  • The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan is something that I’ve read all the mangas to, and I’ve been waiting for quite some time to see this anime become a reality, well before any other anime fan expressed similar thoughts. According to the cast listings, the series’ original voice actors will make a return, and the studio Satelight will be animating the adaptation, rather than Kyoto Animation. This matters not: Satelight has a reasonably good record, and I’m sure the animation and artwork will be fine. I’m hoping that the soundtrack will take after the Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi in terms of quality, although given that this is probably to be a comedy, it’s likely that the music will be more conventional in terms of style. I will blog this series in the same manner as I have for Kantai Collection: there will be a talk after the first episode, and subsequently, after every five episodes (once episode five has aired) until the finale airs.

Hello! Kiniro Mosaic

In the first season of Kiniro Moasic, Alice Cartalet transferred into a Japanese high school to be with Shinobu Omiya after the two met during a home-stay visit. The two love everything about their friends’ respective cultures, with Shinobu being enamoured by all things English, and Alice is infatuated with the Japanese culture.

  • I’m within an episode of finishing the first season of Kiniro Mosaic, and this was a series that I greatly enjoyed. It’s quite similar to GochiUsa in terms of atmosphere, and relies more on cultural and linguistic intricacies to convey humour, as opposed to GochiUsa, which capitalised in the unique setting to present a lighthearted slice-of-life story that stood out from the others. This series will get two posts: one reflection after the three episode mark has passed, and one after the finale has aired. Both posts will be slightly larger than usual, featuring thirty images rather than twenty: I imagine that large anime blogs out there won’t be covering this, so I will step up to the plate, providing screenshots and interesting discussion on this anime that is exactly what readers deserve.

Hibike! Euphonium

The story follows of the Kitauji Music club, which used to always advance to national competitions. Ever since the adviser changed, though, it hasn’t advanced past the Kansai tournament. However, thanks to the newly appointed adviser’s strict instruction, the students are steadily improving. The club members’ daily lives are full of ups and downs including fights over solos and the decision resign club activities to focus on studies.

  • Kyoto Animation returns to the world of music with Hibike! Euphonium, featuring a brass band in place of a light music club. From the sounds of things, Hibike! Euphonium will be more focussed than K-On! was as far as music and directionality goes; this could wind up being a fun anime to follow, and with Kyoto Animation behind the wheel, things will look and sound nice for sure. Hibike! Euphonium will follow my standard posting schema of two posts: one reflection after the three episode mark has passed, and one after the finale has aired.

Winter 2015 Anime

The fall season is just a few weeks from closing off, and this is probably the closest I’ve cut things as far as doing season previews are concerned. Thanks in no small part to a busy schedule and the influx of anime to watch and discuss, I’ve put off doing a preview for quite some time now, but today, I’m mostly done everything for this term, so there’s been a little bit of time to step back and see what’s happening in the Winter 2015 anime season. Owing to a shift in my logistics for this year’s winter holidays, I’ll be doing final talks for Sora no MethodSword Art Online II and Amagi Brilliant Park after the new year kicks off. Similar to last winter, there are a handful of shows I’ll be following, and below is a mostly-complete listing of the Winter 2015 offerings.

  • Even with a retina display, reading the text from this level is going to be a pipe dream. Fortunately, I’ve the presence of mind to link to the original resolution chart, which is some seven megabytes in size and optimised for 1080p displays. As per usual, my watching habits could change without notice, and I may wind up picking up extra/dropping shows before the three-episode mark has passed. With that being said, let’s do this!

A cursory glance at the chart shows that Kantai CollectionSaenai Heroine no Sodatekata and Aldnoah.Zero‘s second season have my eye. I’ve been hearing about Kantai Collection since last September, and have been looking forwards to a naval version of Strike Witches and Girls und Panzer. The game itself is wildly popular, but I’ve never really understood the appeal beyond “anthropomorphic battleships of the Imperial Japanese Navy” (I’ve always been more of a fan of the US Navy). The anime, on the other hand, looks to be something that’s meant to be enjoyed, and while discussions elsewhere turn to the technical, I’ll try to focus on enjoying the show for its character dynamics and combat choreography. Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata (How to Train the Ordinary Girl to be a Heroine) looks to be an anime about building a visual novel. I understand that Aldnoah.Zero‘s first season ended on a disappointing note, but out of my own curiosity to finish it, I’ll take this one up as the Winter season’s “serious anime”. Because the premise is already known, there’s no real need to give it its own section, and I’m personally hoping that how they reintroduce things will at least make some sense without depending on something outrageous. Beyond the shows, there’s also the Bokura Wa Minna Kawaisou and Tari Tari OVAs; the former will release later this month and be reviewed somewhere in the new year (hopefully, before mid-January has passed), latter should have released yesterday, and I’m hoping that the BD will feature a HD version of it, because Tari Tari is something that was meant to be watched in 1080p, rather than 480p.

Kantai Collection

The story is set in a world where humanity has lost control of the seas to the threat known only as the “deep sea fleet”. The only ones who can counter the “deep sea fleet” are the Kan-musume (warship girls), who possess the spirit of naval vessels harking back to an older era. Stationed at the naval base Chinjufu, many various Kan-musume have gathered to live together, working hard everyday in training and improving other aspects of their daily life. One day, a Kan-musume arrives at Chinjufu. Named Fubuki, she is a special class of destroyer, and her arrival sets in motion the story that will be told in Kantai Collection.

  • As previously noted, I am not a fan of Kantai Collection the game because of the exceptionally steep learning curve, and the fact that it takes the sort of effort that would earn people the Nobel Prize to master. Games shouldn’t require its players to have a notebook and calculator out to enjoy properly, nor should they require players spend a good 25 hours a day (that’s not a typo: from what I’ve heard, playing the game properly requires a heck of a lot of grinding and planning). On the other hand, the anime’s not going to require too much effort to watch, and from the premise, looks to be similar to Strike Witches minus the pantsu and with ships taking the place of aircraft. My über-micro also tells me that Kaga will be my favourite character. for bearing a great deal of similarity to Tari Tari‘s Sawa Okita.

Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata

Tomoya Aki is an otaku who works part-time to earn money to buy anime. One day during spring vacation, he meets a beautiful girl, and not more than a month later, he finds out that the girl is his classmate, Megumi. Tomoya is told that she is hardly noticed by the other classmates. Tomoya, who also has no special skills or abilities, decides to write a visual novel. Enlisting Eriri Spencer Sawamura, a well-known member of the Art Club to provide the art for the game and Utaha Kasumigoaka to write the game scenario, Tomoya kicks off Blessing Software, whose goal is to sell their game at the next Comiket.

  • Shirobako‘s still going to be rolling come the new year, but here’s an anime about making games. This concept was explored in brief back during OreImo, but it’s going to be fun to see some quasi-game development, and before I get lampooned for using the quantifier “quasi”, I feel that visual novels are more story-driven, depending mostly on good writing above graphics and performance to be successful. As such, I consider them to be interactive books rather than full-on games. With that said, I nonetheless look forwards to seeing how it goes for them: from the premise, their goal of publishing software is not dissimilar to the experience I had over the summer. I look most forwards to seeing what software they use for their project. For the present, though, the three new shows, plus the massive backlog I’ve got (including Psycho-Pass and Nagi no Asukara) ought to keep me busy until the Spring 2015 season arrives, and though I’ll say it again later, the Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan is something I’ve looked forwards to for a very, very long time. This might be the one anime I do weekly reflections on during the course of its run.