Saturday, July 16, 2011

What I'm watching this season

Sorry about the lack of posts this past week. Back on track- I've seen everything that I thought had potential for the summer, and it's looking pretty good so far. (Need a good new yuri show though. For my lesbian TV needs, I'm hooked on Pretty Little Liars right now. Viva season 2!) So, what's worth watching?

More of this,
and less of this, 

Blood-C (2 episodes watched): Beautiful artistry (CLAMP's usual line-up of pretty girls and pretty guys- and one smoking hot teacher), some kick-ass fight scenes...and an annoying heroine. ("STOP SINGING.") They've tried so hard to make Saya loveable in Blood-C (she's a clumsy, pig-tailed, glasses-wearing miko who sings on the way to and from school and is often late because she gets side-tracked helping old ladies and kids, picking up trash, and trying to pet puppies) that it produces the opposite effect. I'll give it another shot, since it looks like something big will happen in the next episode.

Dantalian no Shouka (1 episode watched):
This was okay. Loads of similarities to Gosick, although I like how Dalian isn't as precious as Victorique and Hugh doesn't feel like as much of an audience self-insert as Kazuya. Sharp art and animation from Gainax, but still a pass for me.

Ikoku Meiro no Croisée (2 episodes watched): Sweet and beautifully atmospheric, as expected. It isn't Aria, but it's another feel-good show with Satou Junichi's thumb print on it.

Kamisama Dolls (2 episodes watched):
It has interesting elements (the sinister, tight-knit village that the main character left to live in Tokyo), but it mostly feels like a non-obnoxious take on the old Everyman-gets-thrust-into-a-crazy-fantasy-adventure-and-hey-there's-a-busty-love-interest-too set-up.

Mawaru PenguinDrum (2 episodes watched): 
Notes on the first episode:
I could feel my heart rate speed up when I started watching this. The Mad King does not disappoint. XD I re-watched it to better catch the Utena parallels (The second "Survival Strategy!" scene (which I've re-watched on its own) = the staircase/elevator sequence. The children who compare the world to an apple initially reminded me of the shadow girls, but then I remembered the student council's "the world is an egg" speech.) and make connections I'd missed. (No coincidence that you-know-who pulled out Kanba's heart before what happened in the final scene. The question is if what she did is the cause of his feelings, or if what she did to his heart made him act on pre-existing feelings. Kind of like the duelists in the Black Rose arc.) I'm also excited about the unintroduced characters in the OP- especially the girl who kind of looks like Juri. ^_^;; (Trying not to go overboard comparing Mawaru to Utena. Trying.) But yes- if you can only watch one show airing right now, it should definitely be this one.
Notes on the second episode:
Holy crap, what a creepy ending. Not much actually happened since it's a set-up episode (two more of the side characters from the OP appeared in some form here), but it was still worth re-watching. Going by the OP, Ringo isn't to to get a good ending, but we'll see.... And everyone was right about the "Survival Strategy!" scene. (I imagined Ikuhara being like, "You wanna bitch about the repetitive staircase sequence being a budget-saving move? How's this?") And even though I don't really like Hoshino Lily's art in manga form, her character designs always look beautiful and elegant animated. (Here and in Otome Youkai Zakuro.) What is the penguindrum? I'm assuming that it's something found in the heart of someone who's in love? (Or in the heart of someone whose love is "forbidden" and needs to be hidden?) I'm thinking (again) of how, after the penguin hat entity said it wanted the penguindrum, it got rid of Shouma and pulled out Kanba's heart. It didn't find what it was looking for in Kanba, so it targeted Ringo as a likely source for what it wants. That still doesn't answer what the penguindrum is (assuming my theory is even correct), but, hey, the"ability to revolutionize the world" wasn't concretely defined either.

Morita-san ha Mukuchi (2 episodes watched): A pleasant adaptation of a 4-koma about a quiet, likeable girl named Morita Mayu and her school friends. It doesn't have any service and at three minutes an episode, it's easy to follow. (Here's hoping the yuri from the manga shows up here. ^^) My one complaint is that the two boys who briefly show up in episode 2 are...really annoying. (Their commentary was in a running gag in the OVA, and I'm afraid that it's going to be the same in the TV series.)

No. 6 (2 episodes watched): My second favorite this season. (Nothing's going to beat Ikuhara.) The first episode was intriguing, the second episode was great, and I'm itching to see what happens to Shion and Nezumi next.

Nyanpire (3 minutes per episode, 2 episodes watched): 
These cats were cuter when they didn't talk. (And for such a goth-looking show, there's no dark humor.) Pass.

Sacred Seven (1 episode watched):
Sunrise, what happened? A high school boy (who always has the same grim, pouty expression- see the screencap above) turns out to have superpowers that he can use to fight monsters. A goth-loli with a mecha-piloting butler who's a dead ringer for Sebastian Michaelis and a gajillion sniper maids at her disposal sternly tells him to fulfill his destiny, before he accepts. This show's biggest downfall is that it has no sense of humor. With all of the ridiculous crap in it, it should camp it up a little instead of expecting the audience to take it completely seriously.

The Idolm@ster (2 episodes watched):
I found the first episode annoying, but decided to try the second after reading the reviews of this show on ANN. It was fine. Now that they've been introduced, the girls do a (completely un-servicey, wow) photo shoot and learn a lesson about how they should value what makes them unique. Better than I expected, even though I still won't be following it.

Usagi Drop (1 episode watched):
A pitch-perfect adaptation of the material it covers, but I can't get over what happens later on the manga. (It's a slap in the face to anyone who likes Usagi Drop for the heartwarming parent-child relationship between Daikichi and Rin. Hard to believe that a mother of two wrote it.)

I've started the first season of Natsume Yuujin-chou (thumbs up- it's a really good show), and it sounds like the recently premiered third season has kept up the franchise's quality.


caitlyn said...

Ohhh, you did NOT just call Nana Mizuki's singing annoying!

I do find Blood-C pretty bland aside from the spectacular animation though. Saya is the most boring character ever.

Anonymous said...

Hehe, I was waiting for this post- let's see:

The animation on this is awesome, the story setup is a bit bumpy but the focus seems to be on lavish fight scenes anyways. I can live with that. I'm hoping that Saya's too-good-for-this-world character is just a setup for development (ie her 'job' starts to change her off-duty personality). Aside from that, not much to say about the show.

Ikoku Meiro no Croisée
Warm, atmospheric, calm. I like the pace of this, it's a welcome departure from all the supernatural, super-powered stuff and a slice-of-life that doesn't take place in a school for once. Good premise with a lot of potential. I'll keep watching this.

Kamisama Dolls
Ehhhh. Couldn't grab me. Feels like something for those who grew up with Digimon or Pokemon and grew up to the age where they want to oggle at girls. Shiba's personality is actually quite charming, but I'm weird out by her rocket-breasts. Pass for me.

Kamisama no Memochou
A lot better than expected. A mix of Death Note and Meitantei Conan, with sprinkles of nutty on top. The characters are mostly stencils, but so far work well together. It can keep suspense, and Alice isn't as obnoxious as feared. She didn't even get that much screen time in first two episodes. The show is funny in that the few (and brief) service scenes feel so forced on, you can almost hear the staff discussion:

Writer: ..and with a brief summary, Alice and Narumi reflect quietly upon the diffcult relationship in the case, wrapping up the episode.
PR Guy: Yes, yes! And then Ayaka storms in, pulls of Alice's pants and Narumi gets slapped out of the room hahaha!
Writer: ...

Thankfully these spells are over quickly. I'm curious if loli-L will get a Light Yagami simulacrum later on.

Mawaru PenguinDrum
Quirky stuff! I like that in a show, although I can't say I'm terribly excited about it (yet). I'll keep watching though.

Morita-san ha Mukuchi
Harmless fluff, but enjoyable as such. The three minute format works well for a 4-koma adaption, it doesn't overstay it's welcome.

No. 6
I enjoyed watching it, the first two episodes set up a good premise and I'm hooked on what will happen next. The characters are interesting, and the story shows a lot of promise. Yaoi-rific types like Nezumi aren't usually my cup of tea, but he seems to be an exception to that rule.

The Idolm@iler
Pass. Not my thing.

Usagi Drop
I love this one. I've worked in a nursery school for a while, and the scene where Rin waits and waits for Daikichi to return summoned up a lot of memories. Beautiful characterization, adequately paced, so far I can't see any fault. Your comment about where the mangas go gives me an idea what will happen, but I haven't read them and, as I said on twitter, choose to remain oblivious and enjoy the show for what it is. This one is my fav so far.

Nichijou and Iroha juts picked up where they left off, and I'm completely fine with that, although I wish that Iroha would increase its pace a little.

A word on Natsume Yuujin-chou: I like this show, it's one of the few where characters have actual depth, and it's pleasant to watch. The one flaw I see with it is that it follows it's monster-of-the-week format without fail, and that leaves side-characters on the way which endeared themselves to me. They pop up every so often, but I'd be happy to have a story arch that spans a season. Still, the strict adherence to the format at least lets you know that you'll get 'more of this' with each new episode, which in this case isn't a bad thing either.

Katherine Hanson said...

@caitlyn- I know; blasphemy! XD

"Saya is the most boring character ever." <- Couldn't agree more. I miss movie Saya.

@µ- "I'm hoping that Saya's too-good-for-this-world character is just a setup for development (ie her 'job' starts to change her off-duty personality)." <- *fingers crossed*

I agree about Ikoku Meiro's setting being refreshing for a slice-of-life. (3 episodes in, it's still good at what it's meant to do.)

The advertising for Kamisama looked pretty "meh", so I'm glad it's good.

"I'll keep watching though." (^_^)b

"The three minute format works well for a 4-koma adaption, it doesn't overstay it's welcome." <-Agreed. I like Morita more in small doses than as a full OVA.

I also agree about the pluses and minuses of Natsume's storytelling format and revolving cast. (In that sense, it kind of reminds me of Doctor Who. XD)

ghostman49.5 said...

I found last season (Spring) extremely hard to get into. I'd never dropped so many anime in one season before but I'm hoping for better premieres in the fall.

Usagi Drop is okay (looking forward to controversial ending) and No. 6 are the only ones keeping my interest this Summer.

Katherine Hanson said...

@ghostman49.5- "looking forward to controversial ending" <- Assuming that the anime reaches that point in the manga, which I don't think it will. (But if it does, good luck stomaching it. ^_^;;)

I didn't think the spring season was bad, since I found three shows to follow (Ano Hana, Hanasaku Iroha, and Sengoku Otome), although they were definitely weaker than the Hourou Musuko/Madoka Magica combo from the winter season. And yup, here's hoping for something stand-out for fall.