The Family: The Brotherhood
By Donte M McNeal

Based in Michigan, Donte's Playground is a blog by Donte M McNeal. His posts range from nonsensical ramblings about anime, in-depth reviews of books and television/film, to random spurts of philosophical babble.

Winter 2017 Anime: 1st Impressions

Winter 2017 Anime: 1st Impressions

A new year means one thing (okay it means more than one thing, but I digress). A new slew of anime has begun airing! So, with that said, how’s about I get into what anime I like so far, ones I’ll probably drop, and ones I’ll definitely stay away from?

Fuuka

Titualr character, Fuuka

First up is Fuuka. This was one of my most anticipated shows this season—alongside the next entry on the list—mainly because I’ve been reading the manga. I love what I’ve read so far, so being excited for the show is a given. Oh, you don’t know what it’s about? I guess I’ll tell you then.

Fuuka revolves around our protagonist Yuu, an introverted young man who really sucks at socializing with others. Now, I say it revolves around him, but I feel it would be more fitting to say that the show revolves around the titular character, “Fukka.” Others are drawn to her, and Yuu is no exception. Seeing their relationship develop, and their music evolve is something I’m looking forward to seeing.

What? I didn’t mention this was an anime centered around music? Fuuka decides to start a band, and drags Yuu (and a few others) into joining. Like I said, others tend to be drawn to her, almost as if the pull is irresistible, and even if they complain, they usually end up having a good time. I’m already 3 episodes in, and I’m loving it so far. Drama, comedy, a dash of romance, entertaining characters and music. Yep, sounds like a recipe for success to me.

Is it groundbreaking in its material? No. Is it doing something never seen before in anime? Not even close. But, is it worth your time? Most definitely.

Blue Exorcist

Okay, now Blue Exorcist is a show that I never thought would get another season. Not because the source material isn’t good, but because of the joke that the second half of the first season was. Character development seemed to grind to a halt, characters’ behaviors made little sense, and I found my enjoyment of the show slowly, but surely, waning. All that changed when I heard the new season was going back to canon material.

First, let me tell you what the show is originally about. Blue Exorcist follows Rin, a young man living life as any teenager would: Getting into fights, eating a lot, losing jobs due to short temper and said fights. You know, typical teenager plights. Expect, this relatively easy-going life, where the biggest trouble he had was holding down a part-time job, is thrown on its head as he finds he and his twin brother are the literal sons of Satan. You know, the devil, ruler of demons. Yeah, that guy. On top of learning that, he learns that he isn’t just the spawn of Satan, but was born to basically be a vessel for his father, since the demon overlord doesn’t have a physical body in the world humans live in.

What follows is the fallout of this realization, Rin’s decision to live his life how he sees fit (and not just keel over and give his body up to Satan), and become an exorcist like his twin brother. The only problem with that decision is, Rin inherited the blue flames that Satan is known for (and has killed countless people with), so you can see his dilemma. We follow Rin as he attempts to become an exorcist to defeat Satan, all while trying to hide the fact that he is the son of Satan and shares the destructive power of his father’s blue flames.

Now, that’s the first season, and it ended back in 2011. It was entertaining for the first half, until it abandoned the source material. This year though, it returns to its source material and retcons the anime-only content from first season, which is a welcome change, because we start the season with all of Rin’s exorcist friends learning he is the son of Satan, and witnessing him go on a rampage (while he was trying to protect them, might I add). The tension is thick, the fear is almost palpable and I’m sure it’ll make for some great character drama, as well as some moving character development. And we’re only at the beginning of the new season, so I’m really looking forward to where this goes, especially since Rin and his friends are pulled into a plot that revolves around a powerful demon, The Impure King, that is possibly about to make a return. Sounds like this’ll be quite a season.

Saga of Tanya the Evil

Yep, definitely evil-looking

Yep, definitely evil-looking

I didn’t know anything going into this show, except for the main character looked like—and from the title, would most likely act like—an evil loli (little girl for the uninitiated). In this one, we have, Tanya Degurechov, once an elite office worker in Japan but because of an angry god, has been reborn as a little girl who utilizes sorcery to fight mercilessly on the front lines of a brutal war. Only in anime, right? Still, this looks to be an interesting watch from what I’ve seen so far, so I’ll be sticking with this one.

Interviews With Monster Girls

If you’re an avid, or even casual anime fan, you know whenever monster girls show up, there will most likely little plot, lewd, slapstick comedy and, of course, T&A galore. Thankfully, Interviews With Monster Girls, avoids the pitfalls of most monster girl shows. It’s a show about a teacher who is enraptured with demi humans, or “demis” (vampires, succubae, dullahans, etc.), and how they live and go about their daily lives. He works at a school that has young women who are said demi humans.

What follows is a comedy with heart, about this teacher learning about the lives of his demi students by way of interviews he holds with them, and interacting with them in and out of school. I’ll admit, I was a bit wary of a grown man shut away in a room with high school demis (this is a monster girl anime after all), but my worries were unfounded and unnecessary. This one has brought a smile to my face with every episode so far, whether it was due to innocent misunderstandings, internal teasing by some of the characters, or learning about the hardships some of these demis live with and how the teacher does his best to help them. I’ll be sure to ride this one to the end of the line.

Konosuba Season 2

My favorite anime from 2016 was a little gem that poked fun at both itself and its genre in general. That anime was Konosuba, which you can read a bit about here. The self-referential cleverness peppered throughout, the stellar comedy and overly entertaining characters make this show. I’d be hard pressed to find one I enjoy more this season, especially from a pure entertainment standpoint.

Kazuma and co. return and so do their troubles. After having their possessions taken by the government after the conclusion of the first season, where Kazuma directed an explosion away from the village he and his party members live to the house of one of the lords of their world. we see Kazuma arrested and put on trial. This results in comedy gold, especially the lead up to the trial.

Kazuma in jail

Kazuma in jail

If you want a good laugh, this will have you in tears. Don’t pass this one up; I know I won’t.

Honorable Mention: Gabriel DropOut & Gintama Season 3

Gabriel Dropout is a show about cute girls who are angels and demons. What makes this show so enjoyable is that these angels are horrible angels, closer to demons than anything, and the demons couldn’t be any less demonic. It’s a lighthearted, slice of life comedy, so I’m sure it’ll be fun. I just don’t think I’ll enjoy it as much as say, Konosuba or Fuuka.

Gintama has been a mainstay in anime for years. I used to watch it, but the show had gotten lost in the sea of other anime that had come out, so I’m behind on it. I have it here because the new season just started, and I want to watch it. I know it’ll be good, because come on, it’s freakin’ Gintama!

Dishonorable Mention: One Room

All right, Crunchyroll describes One Room as follows: You are the protagonist. The anime is about 3 stories that develop in your (one) room.

That description didn’t grab me, but the poster was eye-catching and I'm a sucker for nice visuals, so I thought, why not? If the story sucks, at least it’ll look good, right? I wish I hadn’t thought that, because after watching the first episode, I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable. Okay, let me explain.

The “you are the protagonist,” part of the synopsis means the girls talk to the screen, and you see what the mc sees; we look through his eyes. And the reason I felt uncomfortable was because I got the feeling that the mc was a friggin creeper. He was ogling the girl as she spoke to him, as if her chest was where the words were coming from and he was even sneaking peeks at her as she walked up the stairs. I’m sorry, but this one is a no go for me. The art is gorgeous, but I’d rather not look through the eyes of a creeper.

Welp, those are the anime I'll be watching this season, minus a few I haven't seen yet. Hope you find something you want to check out from my picks. Till next time, stay fresh!

What I'm Watching

What I'm Watching

The Rollercoaster of "The Last of Us"

The Rollercoaster of "The Last of Us"