Cute, but aimless is what would be the best description of this anime. The distinct shift of tone in both the story and visual style is at times jarring. Really makes one wonder what they want to do with the series overall. There is a story just waiting to break out, but the thing is as far as episode 6 is concerned the series just trudges forward. Design wise it is beautiful, the world is entrancing and that is what makes this hard to watch. There is potential in the design work, but the writing and plot are really lacking. Perhaps shutting my mind off of all the painfully one dimensional antagonists and almost bland supporting cast, could make this a more enjoyable watch for me. I do still enjoy bits and pieces of it here and there, but so far it has me confused as to how it wants to go from here.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
I am a fan of the FRANCHISE of Gundam. The branding of being in love with a series is justly so when one regards it so highly, but I do not see the franchise as a whole this remarkable saving grace. I was hoping Iron-Blooded Orphans would be what brings Gundam back into the limelight, since the last two excursions were lackluster and plummeted in popularity the franchise as a whole. This decade has yet to be privileged with a solid classic style Gundam, and for once I can say we are on the right track. Iron-Blooded Orphans manages to be off-putting in the beginning for having so many elements shoved into its starting episode. That being said, after that it seems to have found its groove and succeeds in being an entertaining space opera for the meantime. The praise often leans onto the duo of Mikazuki and Orga. Mikazuki is a common type of protagonist in Gundam, resembling in some elements Heroo Yuy from Gundam Wing, but lacks the distinct melodrama and thoughtless dialogue of past ones. He is a machine and follows Orga into whatever fray it is. Orga is the leader of this ragtag group and always tries to do the cool thing in Mikazuki’s eyes. These two are turning out to be some of the most compelling characters in the year, even if the rest of the cast at this point is alright.
Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai
The first of the trio of magic school action anime of the season, Taimadou manages to be a compelling premise. Humans fighting magic with technology in an attempt to fend off the horrid witches and warlocks, now this could be interesting. Episode 1 proved me wrong in a heartbeat. This is a tonal mess, switching from school hijinks and school drama one second, only to provide you with gore and blood the next and sometimes in the same episode! It is completely inconsistent in what it wants to portray, and I don’t know which side of it is worse. The attempt at edginess? Oh, perhaps the fanservice and generic school setting? I am quite livid about this series because even on top of that complaint, I fear there is two more pivotal ones. The pacing is atrocious at points and the fan service is completely unnecessary and mechanic in execution. Fan service at times is excusable if it is at the very least manageable, but it feels like they have carefully plotted each scene and it doesn’t feel natural.
Gakusen Toshi Asterisk
When I said Taimadou had a generic school setting, I should have been more lenient. Gakusen has the average school plotline down to a T. It isn’t funny how bland everything is at moments and how one dimensional the characters are. Yet, I will say its execution so far does far better than the previous. Gakusen takes pride in average storytelling and handles its fan service in a better, more natural way…even though it still feels forced in moments. Gakusen entertains at the very least, which is something Taimadou cannot do in the slightest. Consistency is great, but the problem is you need some spice in the storytelling to keep my attention.
Rakudai Kishi no Calvalry
Most certainly, Rakudai is the best of the three by a small margain. Why? Well despite its first episode and Gakusen’s being extremely similar, Rakudai manages to also be funny. The other two are harems, yet this one attempts to be an ecchi romance. The fan service is here, and at times it can get quite sad. There is little holding the bad writing together though. The problem lies with its McGuffin, our protagonist Ikki Kurogane. The protagonist while interesting as the underdog in the beginning, seems to be a bit overpowered. A lot of the off-putting elements can be traced back to him, but so can the entertaining elements as well. He has his hand in everything. The battles are often an afterthought to the abilities used, since the fighting often results in a lackluster or uninspired sequence of events. Rakudai does try its hardest to be the best executed of the three, which is more than I can say about Taimadou.