Friday, January 20, 2012

First Impressions for Winter

Thank goodness, the new anime season is better than it seemed like it would be.

Ano Natsu de Matteru (1 episode watched):
Boy meets alien girl, who ends up living with him. Ano Natsu actually isn't bad, which means that it's amazing for its subgenre. Ano Natsu's lead character isn't annoying, his love interest is kind of charming, and it just the writers are putting in a little more effort than they need to for an audience that would probably eat Ano Natsu up regardless. I don't see myself following this show- and I can't call it good- but it's a cute, non-obnoxious example of a story that could have easily been bad.
Streaming on Crunchyroll.

Another (2 episodes):
I really wanted to like this show. I liked the first episode for its atmosphere and the questions it raised. But two episodes in, Another still hasn't done anything to make me particularly care about its characters. The doll shop scene in episode 2 was creepy, but it isn't enough. I can get my horror fix elsewhere.
Streaming on Crunchyroll.

Kill Me Baby/Baby, Please Kill Me! (1 episode):
Boring. If you want a comedy, you're better off watching...

Daily Lives of High School Boys (2 episodes):
Funnier than the manga it's based on, probably because of its director (who helmed School Rumble) and its seiyuu's comic timing. (Especially Sugita Tomokazu- Kyon's voice- as one of the leads.) Each episode is made up of several stand-alone scenes. Most of the segments revolve around the same joke (someone tells a lie or makes up a fantasy scenario that spins out of control- like the three leads acting out how one of them would ask out a cute girl- say, one in their class- until they remember that they attend an all-boys' school), but there are some funny moments. I'm being picky again this season, so I don't see myself following this one either, but it would be a fine choice if you're looking for a comedy that doesn't suck.

Moretsu Pirates (2 episodes):
The best surprise of the season. I didn't expect anything good from a show based on a light novel series called Mini-Skirt Pirates, but Moretsu Pirates (as far as I'm concerned, there is no English title) is the most fun show airing this season. Marika isn't ditzy or bland as the lead, and it's refreshing that she really has a choice whether or not to become captain of the Bentenmaru (her deceased father's space pirate ship) instead of being forced into it or told that she kind of has a choice but HORRIBLE things will happen if she doesn't. Since Moretsu Pirates is striving to be a sci-fi adventure series with...a story and everything, I'm excited about seeing where it goes.
Streaming on Crunchyroll.

Natsume Yuujin-chou Shi (3 episodes):
Season 4 of Natsume is more of the same. In this case, that's a very good thing. This season kicks off with a dramatic two episode arc involving the exorcist Matoba, and then settles back into the familiar narrative of Natsume encountering a new youkai and resolving a problem involving it within a single episode. These episodes did a great job of highlighting how the characters have developed since the first season (especially how Natsume has become less isolated and how Nyanko-sensei's reasons for protecting Natsume have become increasingly less mercenary, even though he's still insisting that he's only in it for Natsume's book of youkai names), while promising more great development to come.
All four seasons of Natsume are streaming on Crunchyroll.

Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki (2 episodes):
The producers of this series wisely decided to make each episode only three minutes long. It's a simple story. An OL finds a cat and brings it home. The cat is hideously adorable as it interacts with the OL and her family. Unlike this past summer's similarly cat-themed Nyanpire, Poyopoyo succeeds at being cute- and doesn't feel like it's just trying to sell character merchandise.
Streaming on Crunchyroll.

Recorder and Randsell (1 episode):
Not even a three minute episode length (or a cameo by Morita-san's Mayu and Hana- seen running away from Atsushi's awful recorder-playing above) could save this show from being meh. Har har, Atsushi is a grade schooler who looks like an adult, and har har the irony, his seventeen year old sister Atsumi looks like a grade school kid. And OMG since he looks like an adult, he can't  walk to school with one of his classmates without looking like a pedophile, resulting in a neighbor calling the police on him. It seems like that will be an ongoing gag in this show. Sigh.
Streaming on Crunchyroll.

Rinne no Lagrange (2 episodes): 
The first episode didn't do anything for me- it just seemed like Evangelion with a spunky girl instead of a depressed boy as the lead. The second episode wasn't any more original, but I liked it a lot more, somehow. A friend mentioned that she liked how the lead's family (well, her older cousin) really doesn't want her piloting a mech, instead of the usual "You pilot that giant robot, you teenager, you!" The lead, Madoka, is likeable, the plot has become unexpectedly entertaining, and Noto Mamiko is playing Madoka's cousin Youko, so I'm in.
Streaming on

Senhime Zesshou Symphogear (3 episodes):
The gayest thing airing this season. (Hence my extra-long write-up on it.) Miku invites her best friend Hibiki to a concert by her two favorite idols, red-haired Kanade and blue-haired Tsubasa, but isn't able to make it. Hibiki has a blast at the concert anyway, until...aliens attack! Kanade and Tsubasa transform into armored magical girl-like fighters who attack the aliens while singing dance music. Yup, the premise can't get any campier.

Kanade dies protecting Hibiki because Hibiki, for some reason, didn't run out of the concert stadium with everyone else. Before Kanade dies, the "relic" that she needs to transform shatters and a few pieces of it get lodged in Hibiki's chest. (Hmm, wonder where this will lead.) Two years pass and Tsubasa transfers into Hibiki and Miku's school. Hibiki runs into the aliens and tries to save a little girl from them. When the aliens corner them on a rooftop, Hibiki starts singing and transforms. Tsubasa rides up on a motorcycle and kills the aliens.

After being whisked away by the government, Hibiki learns that her singing triggered the relic fragments in her chest, allowing her to use the fighting armor that Kanade wore. Now she's Tsubasa's fighting partner. But Tsubasa hates Hibiki because the only partner she wants is Kanade. She really only wants Kanade. Like, she blushes and goes googly-eyed when Kanade hugs her from behind in episode 1 and obsesses over her in a way that has made me add her to my Characters Who Remind Me of Chikane (Dear God, I'm Seeing Her Everywhere) List. Hibiki keeps digging herself deeper by telling Tsubasa things like, "Tee hee, I just got in your way, but I'm looking forward to fighting with you more!" and "I'll work hard to replace Kanade!" The third episode focuses on Hibiki trying to adjust to her new life. I couldn't care less about Hibiki, so...yeah, blah. More Kanade, please. Poor Miku likes Hibiki, who obliviously shares a bed with her in the dorm room they live in. Symphogear is crap, but it's crap that I don't hate- the kind that I'm willing to stare at when I'm eating breakfast or something.
Update on 02/12: Streaming on Funimation's website.


Anonymous said...

Let' see.

Symphogear: Oh lord, that show is cheesy. In fact, two episodes in I haven't decided yet if it's cheesy enough to continue- you know, in a Plan 9 kind of way. The sprinkles of yuri are about the best thing this show has to offer, but Hibiki is such a dolt, I feel sorry for Miku. If I really continue to watch this, I hope Miku puts her foot down at some point.

Another: I'm enjoy the slow pace in this. I like my horror more built up and subtle than BOO! scares and gore (though I don't mind either). The show manages to get atmosphere right so far, so I'm going to stick with it a bit longer.

Daily Lives of High School Boys: I couldn't make it through the first episode. Every single joke fell flat. Skipped through the second episode in search for change, then dropped it.

Natsume Yuujin-chou Shi: Yaaaay, Natsume! There's nothing to be said that hasn't been said about the previous three seasons. I enjoyed the little continuity burst of the first two episodes though. I'm hoping for more episodes with familiar faces.

Nisemonogatari: Yeah, Bakemonogatari, part 2. They didn't deviate from the formula, just increased the cast. I enjoy the witty rapid-fire banter of this show, something I've been craving to find since Spice and Wolf. They're doing this quite well actually, so I can look past the plenty of Harem service.

Chihayafuru: Sticking with this. Helps to fill the gap until spring, when the next Saki season hits. ^^

I'm also still watching Mirai Nikki, although just and only for Gasai Yuno. Without her, this show would be a terrible bore.

I think I'll give Ano Natsu de Matteru and Moretsu Pirates a try after reading your reviews :)

Katherine Hanson said...

@µ- Symphogear: Oh, same here. In poor Miku's case, love really is blind. :-)

Daily Lives of High School Boys has gotten really mixed reactions, so I can see what you mean.

Natsume: Me too. As much as I like the stand alone episodes that comprise the bulk of this series, the occasional change of pace is welcome.

Not following Mirai Nikki any more- but yeah, Yuno was the most entertaining thing in it by far out of what I saw.

Chihayafuru's good...but I still ended up falling behind on it and dropping it. ^^; Man, I'm looking forward to more Saki. (Even if I'm really holding out hope for another season with the main cast.)

"I think I'll give Ano Natsu de Matteru and Moretsu Pirates a try after reading your reviews :)" (^_^)b

Anonymous said...

Symphogear, moretsu pirate, and no Rinne Langrange there are potentially Yuri anime and shoujo-ai?

Katherine Hanson said...

@Anon- Symphogear has two yuri characters who aren't interested in each other. Moretsu Pirates and Langrange both have primarily female casts with no male love interests, so slash fans are interested in them. Langrange's next episode preview at the end of episode 1 is undeniable yuri fanbait, but as for anything beyond light subtext... The Moretsu Pirates light novels have a yuri couple among the side characters (source: this thread), but MP's director (who is also helming Langrange) has tweeted that he doesn't intend to include romance elements in the shows he's helming this season. (Source here.) I really want to think that he'll still include the yuri couple in MP since the show already has a het couple- and their relationship is presumably okay to include because their romance isn't played up over their role in the greater story. I really hope he'll keep the yuri couple and integrate them into the show in the same way.

Anonymous said...

So in fact it is potentially Yuri anime or Shoujo-ai, but even if there are two or three girls who would "lesbian" there 's will be no "couple" just as heard in Morestu pirate, and Symphogear and Langrange ?

Katherine Hanson said...

@Anon- If the Moretsu Pirates anime follows the Moretsu Pirates novels closely enough, it will have a couple. I can't say that there will be no couples in Langrange or Symphogear because they aren't over yet. I can't speculate about Symphogear and Langrange the same way that I can for Moretsu Pirates because Symphogear and Langrange are original stories, not adaptations. (I personally favor a theory someone else came up with: that Hibiki will sacrifice herself to revive Kanade. :-) That way, the most annoying character will bow out and Tsubasa can have her girl back.)

Anonymous said...

Also, what people perceive as depiction of a lesbian relationship is very, very much subjective. For some, two girls sharing a room (or so much as talking friendly to each other) seems to be sufficient. :P

Katherine Hanson said...

@µ- Heh, very true.

Anonymous said...

hahaha yes x3