Just like the title says, these are my thoughts on the shows I’ve seen so far this season. I rarely watch more than 4 or 5 anime per season, but this seems to be shaping up to be a strong season. There are a few things that I want to watch that I plan on getting to later, so just because something isn’t included here doesn’t mean I don’t plan on watching it.
Orange (episodes 1-4)
Easily the highlight of the season, Orange can best be described as a more low-key Steins;Gate with shoujo elements. So far, it seems to be setting up a relationship between it’s two leads, Naho and Kakeru, a relationship that’s at least partially guided by Naho’s letter from her future self. The best part so far has been the incidental conversations between Naho and her friends because of how natural they feel and how well they develop the cast just through their interactions. It’s been pretty slow paced so far, but it seems like things will start picking up soon and I’m really looking forward to that. The only real criticism I have is that Naho can be annoyingly timid sometimes. Still, Orange is definitely worth watching this season.
Berserk (episode 1)
There’s not a whole lot to say here since episode 1 was mostly establishing the setting and introducing a couple of new characters. It’s basically just following Guts after the Eclipse, and clearly assumes you’ve seen either the original anime or the three movies since it doesn’t bother to explain much of anything. And yes, it’s about 90% CGI and yes, it’s not very good. The art is pretty strong and what little 2D animation it has is great, but the vast majority is mediocre to bad CGI. Still, it’s more Berserk and I’ll be watching it as soon as it’s dubbed regardless of the CG.
Planetarian (episodes 1-3)
Planetarian is an interesting show. Scheduled for only 5 episodes, it feels very focused. The only characters so far are the robot, Yumemi, and the unnamed junker who runs across her store. The entire show seems devoted to their characters and relationship, and so far it’s done a great job there. Everything is very understated, letting the situations and the characters speak for themselves without laying anything on too thick. The entire setup in pretty sad on it’s own, so the show doesn’t need to do too much for it to work. I’m really enjoying it so far, and any fans of other Key adaptations likely will too.
Tales of Zestiria the X (episodes 0-3)
Tales of Zestiria is based on a fairly popular JRPG and is not at all trying to hide it. The first three episodes play out like the prologue to a video game, introducing the cast/party members, setting up an evil and mentioning a legend of a chosen one who is destined to save the world. The story wasn’t bad or anything, but wasn’t too special either. The only things that really stood out were the great animation (done by Ufotable), the soundtrack and the fight scenes. The story started to pick up around episode 3 (which is actually the fourth episode) and now I’m feeling more optimistic about it. Now that the characters and setting have been established, Tales of Zestiria seems to be shaping up to be a solid fantasy adventure with great action scenes. I don’t expect it to be great, but it looks like it’ll be pretty good.
The Heroic Legend of Arslan Dust Storm Dance (episodes 1-4)
I don’t have a whole lot to say here, since this isn’t too different from season 1 and anyone who’s thinking about watching Arslan should start with season 1. Dust Storm Dance continues to be a solid fantasy adventure with an good plot and okay characters. The characters are relatively simple, but that’s not really the point of this kind of high fantasy. The main draws of this type of fiction are the plot and worldbuilding more than the characters, which is just fine. Arslan isn’t amazing, but it’s still a solid fantasy anime.
Alderamin on the Sky (episodes 1-3)
Alderamin didn’t make a great first impression. Episode 1 was pretty standard plot-wise, none of the characters were hugely interesting and the main character was kind of annoying. Luckily, it started to pick up after that. The characters are still pretty basic, but the lead is improving and the story seems promising. Instead of a typical light novel anime, it seems to be more of a military fantasy. The main character is decidedly not a fighter, but is a skilled commander and most of the conflicts so far have had something to do with his ability to strategize. If it stays like this, it could turn out to be better than the first episode hinted at.
Mob Psycho 100 (episodes 1-2)
I have a feeling I would have liked Mob Psycho a lot more if I hadn’t had such high expectations. Mob Psycho has the same creator as One Punch Man and the same director as Death Parade, which were two of the best anime of last year, so I went in with high expectations. Mob Psycho isn’t bad by any means, but it’s not great either. Mob comes off as a kind of toned down Saitama, and Reigen was a bit annoying with how self-aggrandizing he was. Still, it had some funny jokes and really good animation, and it has potential to improve. You’ll probably like it more than me if you go in with different expectations. I expected an action show similar to OPM, but it’s actually more of a slice of life comedy. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not what I expected, which is why I was more lukewarm about it. It’s still worth checking out, though, and I’ll probably finish it eventually.