Saturday, July 21, 2012

Early Impressions of This Season's Shows

Sorry about my lateness in posting this- it took longer than I expected to catch up on what's airing. Lame excuses aside, here is what I wound up sampling out of this season's selection of shows. I have put asterisks next to the titles of the shows I am continuing to watch.

Chouyaku Hyakunin Isshu: Utakoi (1 episode watched):
This series loosely adapts the poems of the Hyakunin Isshu. The first half of the first episode follows a legendary playboy's love affair with the future empress, while the second half is about...uh, the guy from the first half getting a visit from his brother. I don't plan on watching more, but it was okay. I did like how the art mimicks sumi-e painting.

Streaming on Crunchyroll.

*Jinrui ha Suitai Shimashita (3 episodes):
As I noted in the comments to my preview of the season, my assumption that Jinrui ha Suitai Shimashita is trying to be an iyashikei with some unintentionally creepy quirkiness was utterly, utterly wrong. And I am so glad that I was wrong. This post-apocalyptic fairy tale is funnier than I thought it would be- and has a welcome penchant for trying to mind screw its audience.

Streaming on Crunchyroll.

*Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon season 2 (2 episodes):
Color me surprised, I'm actually...kind of...enjoying this season of Horizon.

It starts right where the first season ended, with Musashi's confrontation with Tres España. We quickly move past that, to the characters entering England (or this show's equivalent) and fighting the people (and things that I cannot describe as anything resembling people) who represent famous British historical figures. They're stuck in English territory for now.

Neshinbara (the glass-wearing guy who acts as the group's strategist) gets a curse placed on him that won't leave until he kills Toori, so he decides to avoid him (damn it). Toori spends the better part of these two episodes prancing around naked- with his usual "Censored" holograms, thankfully, covering key areas. He has actually improved from the first season because the series has dropped his "lol sexual harassment" gag and he is no longer acting as the protagonist- just popping up as comic relief every once in a while and eliciting a general "Wtf, go away," reaction from most of the people around him. But back to Neshinbara. It turns out that he isn't originally from Musashi, and we learn his back story. The characters from the first season who contributed nothing at all to the story (if you've watched the first season, you know who I mean) are mercifully absent so far as well.

But the development that I'm most pleased about is, surprise, Malga's increased screentime. I liked her and Margot (Horizon's lesbian couple) from the show's beginning, and I'm, frankly, thrilled that in addition to this season doing away with or lessening the things that irritated me most about season 1, Malga's personality is being fleshed out. I quite like her sense of humor and banter with the other characters. And it turns out that she and Margot not only run a business together, they enjoy making up after fighting for the make-up sex and plan on having kids someday. Despite the characters' fantasy trappings, their relationship sounds refreshingly, matter-of-factly like a lot of real couples'.

So...uh, yeah. This season still has female characters with balloon boobs and some dumb service jokes, but it has lessened the things that I dislike and augmented the things that I like. The setting- a mishmash of interesting world-building and elements that make me think the author of the Horizon novels is an RPG fan who just wanted to throw every RPG element he likes into this series- doesn't really bother me anymore, when I read it as intentional camp. The plot isn't as messy- still consistently wtf-inducing, but there's more of a method to the madness now. For what it is, I'm actually having fun watching this series right now.

Streaming on Crunchyroll.

*Natsuyuki Rendezvous (3 episodes):
This is the type of show I watch Noitamina for.

Aside from a few moments- like Hazuki's amusing habit of buying plants from Rokka's shop five times per week just to see her (causing his apartment to be filled with plants) and Hazuki's realistically cringe-inducingly awkward confession- I initially liked this series more for its potential know, the actual show, but it has succeeded in grabbing my heartstrings since then. The first thing that got to me was Shimao (the ghost of Rokka's dead husband) not being able to do anything to help Rokka when she really needed it. But as this excellent review outlines, neither Shimao nor Hazuki are entirely sympathetic, and they both have ample room for development. Hazuki, especially, needs to mature. I can understand his not giving up on pursuing Rokka because of Shimao's feelings for her when Rokka herself clearly likes him, but I wanted to punch him when he invited Rokka to the theme park she visited with Shimao and Miho (her sister-in-law) shortly before Shimao was hospitalized for good, knowing what that theme park means to Rokka and Shimao. So...yeah. Clearly, I'm invested in how things will play out.

Streaming on Crunchyroll.

*Rinne no Lagrange season 2 (2 episodes):
Yay, Lagrange! You have not disappointed my expectations.

I like that this season confirmed what I assumed about Dizelmine (Lan's brother) and Villagiulio right off the bat. I didn't expect Villagiulio to be so willing not to interfere with Muginami's actions, and I was pleased with his self-awareness regarding how his methods of dealing with the people who follow him distinguish him from Dizelmine.

Now it's a question of how long it will take Lan to realize the truth about her brother's plans- and how he will respond to Lan's decision at the end of episode 2. (Not to mention how her decision involves Muginami.) Hopefully Lan and Muginami will quickly bring Madoka up to speed regarding the details of the conflict between them instead of continuing to try to protect her while leaving her out of the loop. Knowing Madoka, if they don't tell her, she'll charge full speed ahead into what's happening for their sakes (again), until Novumundus or whoever fills her in. :-) The first two episodes of this season resolved the biggest plot thread left dangling at the end of season one and provided a strong set up for the developments to come. And oh my lord, the subtext. As far as I'm concerned, Madoka and Lan are married. Sorry Muginami, looks like you're the permanent third wheel here.

Streaming at VizAnime.

Tari Tari (2 episodes): 
A girl who messed up her part singing at a school concert a year ago decides to quit the choir after realizing that the choir's adviser doesn't want her to sing again. She starts her own school choir and rounds up enough people to make it official, but it starts falling apart right away.

The first two episodes are pleasant viewing. There's no service, and the characters are decently likeable. The most impressive thing to me is that the characters' homeroom teacher is going on maternity leave, but isn't leaving her job for good because of it. I loathe the "She's getting married/having a baby, so naturally she's becoming a house wife" plot point that pops up a lot in anime. But while the Tari Tari is pleasant, it isn't really grabbing me. It's worth trying, but I don't feel like following it to the end.

Streaming on Crunchyroll.

*Yuru Yuri season 2 (3 episodes):
The first half of this season's first episode kind of amused me, since I read it as not only a self-parody, but a parody of the girl-who-all-of-the-girls-want character type in yuri. After that, I went back to being bored by this series. The third episode came closer to what I like to see in my yuri anime- some actual reciprocated feelings- what with Sakurako's jealously over how much time Himawari spent with Chitose to show her how to make a scarf for Yui by Valentine's Day and Himawari's tacit understanding of Sakurako's feelings. But then the show was like, "Hmmm, I'm dangerously close to making these characters develop. Oh, I know, I'll throw in some random incest service." Sigh.

Streaming on Crunchyroll.


Justin said...

Yeah, you're so late Katherine :p

I'm following almost all of the shows except Horizon and Lagrange. For now. (Hopes to watch anime this weekend O.o)

Katherine Hanson said...

@Justin- :p

Ah, so you have a full viewing schedule. (I actually ended up sampling less than I expected to.) Good luck catching up this weekend. XD