Oigakkosan’s Winter 2015 Bracket (First Round Losers)

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Winter’s first week was a busy one! I reviewed 12 new shows, gave second opinions on six, and continued to co-review two more. Overall, I’m not exactly blown away by anything the season has to offer so far, though I’m happy enough.

So here we are on Monday morning and, as promised, I must drop half of the new roster. Honestly, these weren’t hard choices. That, I think, comes next week.

The Cuts:

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1. Sengoku Musou (4/10)

By far the easiest show to drop, Sengoku was all wrong. Ugly, fussy design, constant exposition, and no attempt to ease us into any of the characters (let alone introducing any of them in a way we could keep track of while all of their names were thrown around) it is a terrible show. Tragic really, because I have a deep love for samurai and pseudo-history.

2. Tantei Milky Holmes (5/10)

Even if it weren’t otaku-pander-food, which I had no interest in watching, Milky Holmes is rather disposable. The fact that this is it’s third season but didn’t require any knowledge of that, nor showed any meaningful connection to earlier work, proves that point. There’s a slim chance you’ll enjoy it if you liked Magic Kaito 1412 last season but I doubt it.

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3. Juuou Mujin no Fafnir (4-5/10)

It’s subjective but Juuou beat out Absolute Duo for blandest magic school harem fighter in my book by the narrowest of margins. Even if it weren’t dull, derivative, dribble, the lolicon vibe to the ‘students’ at elite magic whatever is a turn off. Despite it’s lower rating, Juuou is worth more than Milky because it’s a more palatable genre…

4. Absolute Duo (6/10, 6/10)

‘Absolutely’ unoriginal. Nothing about this show stands out, which means it isn’t terrible but devoid of value. If you are very new to anime you may enjoy it. Otherwise, if you absolutely must watch a bad harem this season, try World Break instead.

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5. Shinmai Maou no Keiyakusha (6/10)

Some reviewers have noted that Demon Step Sister does a better job than most in its genre. The protagonist comes pre-trained, which avoids the laborious process of mid-season teaching. Likewise, he isn’t special (at least, not yet) He’s just a hero, which is more special than a normal person, but not uncommon for the mystic world. Still, ugly, fanservice heavy, and zero emotional attachment makes it awful hard to recommend.

6. Military! (7/10)

I’m not exactly sad that I’m dropping this show (I’ve never managed to stay with a mini-format for an entire season) but it wasn’t that bad, as far as silly over the top comedies go. Honestly, if I wasn’t so confident that I’d lose interest it’s debatable if I would keep this over World Break instead. Still, what’s a wacky, forgettable three minute program really got to offer?

Absolute Duo – 02 (Second Impression)

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Like last season’s Trinity Seven, Absolute Duo devolved into nothing but an empty harem by its second episode. There was so much boob-jiggle, boob-filled screens, exposition and sweat bubbles from characters worried people were getting the wrong idea, I’m surprised Absolute Duo still had time to infodump so much on top of us too.

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Not that any of the info was interesting or given much attention. What was given attention? Have a look at these examples:

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Not that it needs fair treatment at this point but, to be fair, some of the ecchi worked pretty well. Showing the girls have to ‘adjust’ their sweaty gym shorts by pulling them out of their cracks in between fights could have been enough—could even have been more sexualized—and much of the stupid stuff dropped and the episode would have been better for it.

However, that’s assuming the rest of the episode had anything to show us beyond that exploitation. It didn’t.

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Ultimately, my second impression is worse than my first. Not only is Absolute Duo preeminently generic, it’s also a pandering empty hole. It receives a score of 6 entirely on it’s rendering quality and the fact that, while empty, it doesn’t do anything wrong. Technically.

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Absolute Duo – 01 (First Impressions)

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Absolute Duo is a by-the-numbers Magic Battle School Coming-of-Age Romantic Adventure genre piece, featuring talented voice work, decent visuals, and the least imaginative script I’ve seen in a long time.

I might go so far as to claim author Takumi Hiiragiboshi is a soulless hack or possibly a robot, only capable of producing quality through its strict adherence to convention and above average production values.

Where Binan Koukou surprised me by being good, Absolute Duo surprised me for being not.

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Our story follows Tōru “Thor” Kokonoe on his first day at Kouryou Academy, an elite high school where students manifest their souls as weapons known as Blazes.

Thor is special because he’s the protagonist and his Blaze can only make a shield. This unique attribute is revealed during the freshman classes’ opening test, where they must defeat the student next to them or be expelled.

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Thor’s specialness (and his name) draw the attention of fellow special freshman Julie Sigtuna, a whitish haired Scandinavian girl who is powerful and demure and, because she sits next to Thor in homeroom, his room mate.

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Several cliched characters are introduced, like the cat-eared homeroom teacher and the child-as-principle who wears black gothic lolita costumes. Likewise, Thor’s tormented past and reason for joining the academy are eluded to before he gives up trying to swap room mates and settles in for an awkward night wear a beautiful girl doesn’t wear clothes and snuggles up to him because: protagonist.

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You’ll enjoy this if: the genre hasn’t burnt you out yet. It’s like Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei, except youthier, or Trinity Seven, except with brighter colors and a less overt harem element (though it has notable boob jiggle moments).

More over, Absolute Duo’s visuals and fights are adequate — hopelessly outclassed in this post-SAO/Fate era of mega-budget action anime — but adequate. Likewise, Thor is voiced by Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, who voiced SAO’s Kirito.

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However, you probably won’t find Absolute Duo interesting, because you’ve seen something almost identical to it before. A quiet, well meaning teen male protagonist who’s really good at everything, thrust into an embarrassing parent-free living situation with a girl? Magic/Technology equipped teens battling each other to ‘grow stronger’ and one day undo the details of their tragic back stories?

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A soft spoken white-haired girl who’s quiet focus makes her a fantastic warrior but she’s fascinated by the protagonist because reasons? She even falls asleep in his lap because she got too tired and left him freaking out over the polite thing to do!

Copy. Paste. Rinse. Repeat.

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I expect Thor to swoop in and save the day, Kirito-style on a regular basis and slowly build up a harem along the way. Towards the end, he’ll have a show down with the smirking jerk-sack that killed whoever in his backstory, win, and it will be all good.

Maybe there will be a twist here and there — the villain looks vaguely like the protagonist so could turn out to be a family member or even the protagonist himself — but I’m not holding my breath.

First impression? Obviously not so good.

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