Saturday, February 2, 2013

Shows I've Tried From the Current Season, and a Load of Psycho-Pass Yuri Fan Art

A month into the new season, I've tried five of the newly airing shows, not counting the shorts I reviewed in my season preview. I've reviewed each of them below.

Kotoura-san (4 episodes watched):
The surprise of the season. Kotoura-san looked like it would be a light as air 4-koma adaptation about a girl with ESP and her friends in her school's ESP club. But its first ten minutes, showing Kotoura-san's background, felt like the equivalent of being repeatedly punched in the gut. When she was a little kid, Kotoura's tendency to talk about what she heard other people thinking out loud (like her friends' crushes and her parents' affairs) caused her friends to avoid her and her parents to abandon her with her grandfather.

On top of that, she found an abandoned kitten that she fed outside (Not sure why she couldn't just keep it?), but a neighbor decided it was a pest and had it taken to a shelter. The part about her parents and friends made her effectively sympathetic, but the kitten part was overkill. Like we wouldn't get why she entered high school afraid that everyone she loves will leave her without the kitten being taken away? Manipulative though those first ten minutes were, they worked on me, and I wanted to see Kotoura make friends with her classmate Manabe and the members of the ESP club, Yuriko and Daichi. (Manabe, Yuriko and Daichi aren't espers, but they embrace Kotoura's ability instead of being like, "Eek! Monster!")

The primary antagonist in these episodes is some girl who likes Manabe and resents the feelings that crop up between him and Kotoura. She has Kotoura bullied, and when that doesn't work, she has some guys who train at her family's dojo beat up Manabe because... I'm not sure what she hoped to achieve from that.

Anyway, after Manabe is hospitalized, Kotoura transfers out of their school, rationalizing that knowing her has caused everyone she loves pain. So Manabe, Yuriko and Daichi decide to find her and get her to come back.

Like I said, this show surprised me by making me want to see what would happen to Kotoura, however ham-handed it was at points in handling its themes. (Like the crab scene in episode 4.)

Unfortunately, in episode 4, the show introduced one of the most disgusting gags I have ever had the displeasure of seeing. Kotoura's grandfather, the one family member who didn't abandon her, is incestuously obsessed with her and has no compunction about telling her so. Kotoura-san plays this for comedy. Vomit. Episode 4 settles the show's conflicts and Kotoura's issues to the point that it feels like the final episode. Disgusting grandfather aside, that's fine by me since I was starting to get tired of the show anyway. But- eww, vomit, the grandfather. For a show that seemed to have its heart in the right place regarding Kotoura (the "being alienated and bullied for having ESP" aspect could read as an allegory for being alienated and bullied for being different in other ways, which is what I liked about it), the grandfather thing was a complete whiplash. Ugh.

Love Live! School Idol Project (1 episode watched):
Honoka, seen above, finds out her school is going to close after its current first-year class graduates because its enrollment has dwindled. She finds out that another school in the area's enrollment has shot up because some of its students have become hit idols. Honoka decides to become an idol to save her school, and gets her best friends Umi and Kotori to join her.

I won't lie... This episode bored me. I liked that it doesn't have any fan service, but I didn't feel anything while watching it, except when Honoka danced into traffic during her musical number, blissfully unaware of the cars missing her by mere centimeters. That amused me.

Maoyuu Maou Yuusha (3 episodes watched):
In a medieval-influenced fantasy world, our Hero breaks into the Demon King's castle to slay him, and finds that he's actually a queen- and one who wants to end the war between demons and humans. It turns out that a lot of powerful people on the human side have an interest in prolonging the war. The Demon King (no, these characters never get names) and the Hero team up to realize the Demon King's dream. First step, introducing the agricultural revolution to change the rules of human side's economy. ...Well, the Demon King introduces it anyway. She just sort of brings the Hero along because she is infatuated with him, for some reason I can't fathom.

I tried the first few chapters of the Maoyuu manga after trying the anime, and liked what I read of it more. The Demon King has a stronger personality in it (e.g. she emphasizes her intelligence and skill at handling finances, rather than her chastity, when she proposes to the Hero) and the Hero... well, he isn't the utter sop he is in the anime, making them feel more believable and less otaku wishfulfillment-y as a couple than their anime counterparts. The manga isn't high art- it still has its problems and obvious wish fulfillment elements (and the Head Maid still deserves a punch in the gut), but the ratio of them to what I liked was good enough that I still found it what I read of it entertaining. I'm not sure I'll stick with it, given everything else I'm reading and watching, but I'd definitely recommend it over the Maoyuu anime if you're curious about the franchise.

Tamako Market (4 episodes watched):
A mixed bag so far. Mainly because of Dera, the show's talking bird character. I didn't like the peeping gag in the first episode, but it wasn't a dealbreaker for me- although I understand how it could be for someone. That aside, I didn't think Dera was that funny (although he had a couple amusing interactions with the other characters), but didn't mind his presence to the point of quitting the show either. He just seemed like a gimmick to set Tamako Market apart from the gajillion other slice-of-life shows starring high schoolers out there, and I hoped that, once the "OMG wackiness" of his introduction was past, the show would focus more on the other characters, who are all likeable.

The second episode focuses more on Tamako and her friends Midori and Kanna as they celebrate Valentine's Day. Amusingly, Tamako just sees the holiday as a marketing opportunity for her family's mochi shop, and Kanna (whose family does carpentry) wants to make a chocolate house, just because she likes building things. The most romantic aspect of this episode turns out to be Midori, who is in love with Tamako. Tamako is, of course, oblivious, and just as unrecognizing of the feelings her friend Mochizou has for her. (His feelings are played more for comedy, and he, realistically, doesn't hide them as well as Midori does.)

Neither Midori nor Mochizou are aware of the other's feelings for Tamako, and... well, given how Tamako is being written, I don't see her getting romantically involved with anyone during this series' run. What surprised me about this episode was its blatantly gay-supportive message. I knew that it was there before watching, but was still surprised by its execution. Kanna tells Midori, "Anyone can love whoever they want," even though Midori never told her about her feelings for Tamako. Makes me wonder if Kanna knows. lol If I were Midori, I certainly would. If Kanna doesn't, then as great as the episode's message is, its execution of that message wouldn't make much sense (Who says something like that to a friend completely out of the blue?) and be kind of after school special-y.

The third episode focuses on Shiori, a shy girl who wants to befriend Tamako. This episode is easily the worst. Dera spends a LOT of time narrating to us and talking to Shiori. It feels more like his episode than hers.

The fourth episode focuses on Tamako's little sister Anko, as she tries to skip the annual festival her family's mochi shop participates in to visit a museum with the boy she likes and some other kids. She isn't able to make it because Kaoru, the local flower shop lady (who is trans, without anyone else seeming to care or it being treated like something wacky), asks her for help with getting some of the local kids ready to walk in the festival's procession. One of the kids wants Anko to stay to watch the procession, so Anko winds up doing for a little girl what her now-deceased mother did for her when she was little. Luckily for Anko, the boy she likes visits her after the festival finishes- but really, the point is Anko's relationship with her mother, and it's very sweet. Annnd then Dera tells us some aphorism I don't remember. He's keeps talking about love and spring in this show in (I think intentionally) generic terms, and I just tune him out when he does.

Again, I do like most of the characters- but Dera is wearing on me more and more, especially after episode 3. Here's hoping he doesn't take over any more episodes, because this is a charming show otherwise.

Vivired Operation (1 episode watched):
I tried this just to give an opinion on it, since a lot of people are being like "OMG yuri" about it.

In keeping with its being helmed by the same guy who directed Strike Witches, Vivired Operation shows us its protagonist's butt before showing us her face. That isn't alienating at all.

This show's first episode does its darndest to remind folks of Strike Witches, from its plucky protagonist rescuing a cat from a tree at school (that's the point when I stopped watching episode 1 of Strike Witches) to the aliens who makes quick work of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. Cue Vivired's protagonist finding out from her mad scientist grandfather (who transfers his consciousness into a ferret's body so this show has its talking animal mascot) that she can transform into a magical girl-esque fighter. She saves her blue-haired friend from dying, and her grandpa tells her that she and her friend need to dock in order to save the world. Take away the icky service elements (i.e. make it more like Girls Und Panzer in that respect- Girls Und Panzer didn't have Strike Witches' director, but its premise and the character designers working on it helped it benefit from SW's popularity, and what I saw of it wasn't servicey, and it was still a hit right off the bat when it aired), and I might think this is an okay show. As it is, this episode made me feel like I needed a shower.

Also, I've finished season one of AKB0048. I really enjoyed it, but now knowing what AKB48's management requires the actual AKB48 idols to do to keep their jobs (more on that here and here), I'm feeling uncomfortable about supporting this series. I'm not going to support the AKB48 brand by watching the second season's legal stream on Crunchyroll. I'm just dropping it.

On a more upbeat note, I found a really sweet (pun intended) example of coming out online this past week- click here and here for it. Also, I backed a coming out-themed animated short film called "Arrival" on Kickstarter. It looks great and I would love to see it made, so... well, click here if you want to learn more about it.

Finally, have some Psycho-Pass fan art! I'm still hooked, and champing at the bit to see what will happen. It looks like the next episode will bring us to Shinya and Makishima's confrontation, where episode 1 started. I wonder what the remaining episodes will consist of, but am optimistic that the writers have a solid game plan.

Anyway, fan art!

I like how they're kind of shaped like a heart together. ^^ (Going by the pic's tags, that was done intentionally.)
Source: Anh's Tumblr, ☆ミperfect day

The pic below isn't a slash pic, but I thought it was amusing. (Alas, I'm more of a Kagari than an Akane when I drink.)
Source: Hanifah's Tumblr, (screams externally)

Back to the delicious Yayoi x Shion- or KuKara, as Japanese fans have dubbed them by combining their surnames. ^^
Source: うめの's Pixiv.

Shion: *fondle* Whooo am I?
Yayoi: Shion.
Shion: *grope grope* Correct. ♡
Kagari: Kunicchi and Sensei sure are having fun. How nice...
Kagari: Gino-san! Whooo am I? ♡ *squeeze!!* *grope*
Gino: Ka... Kagari... *tremble*
Kagari: Fantastic! Correc...
Gino: *whack*

Source for the comic and the pic above it: Yumemizawa's Pixiv.

Source: 和哉's Pixiv.

The following batch of pics isn't as worksafe, so I'm putting it under the cut below.

Shion's saying, "Yayoi." "ふふ” ("fufu") and "くっくっ" ("kuku") are just her giggling.
Translation of the text paragraph: They're covered in bubbles, so they must have been playing around in the bath, well, no, but anyway, this is that thing I retweeted the other day. They must've been covered in bubbles afterward.

Credit and thanks for the paragraph translation goes to Erin S! I had trouble with parts of it and asked her for help.

Source for the four pics above: 青野くらげ's Pixiv.

Shion: Your hand is warm. ♡
Yayoi: *mura* (ムラ or "mura" is the onomatopoeia for being turned on. Who says you don't learn valuable things from this blog?)
Shion: Yayoi-chan chuu~ (Chuu = the onomatopoeia for kissing)
Yayoi: *mura mura*
Yayoi: Shion kawaiiii. (Everyone knows what kawaii means.)
The little emoticon in the corner is saying, "Ho \(^▽^)/ Yay KuKara~"

Source for the four pics above: なまあし's Pixiv


Helen said...

Oh dammit, I was thinking of trying Kotoaru after seeing all the praise for it but now I'm having second thoughts, guess I'll wait until it's over and then see what the general consensus was.

Katherine Hanson said...

@Helen- Yeah, quite a few people are having second thoughts about it after hearing about episode 4. I envy them/you. ^^;

Anonymous said...

Kotoura's grandfather is revolting. Creepy old pervert can be funny, but only if it's not really a creepy, old pervert.

Love Live: Their eyes...those soulless, empty eyes. I'll let you in on a secret. The early episodes are just establishing the setting, eventually they'll go full scale horror.
School Idols of Satan sucking your soul, soon you rise as one of them, doomed to J-Pop for eternity... the Idol Apocalypse!!! It will revolutionize Anime forever, I swear.

A little critique - please don't compare Vivdred to Garupan. Girls und Panzer is a tournament, let's win this, Gambatte! -anime.
Vividred is an Agent Aika, let's see how many pantsu we can stuff nto 20 min. -anime. Totally different.
If you take out the fanservice, the result is not Garupan, what you get is a battle-shounen with girls. (e.g. Fate/Zero)

Anyway, it is a slow season. Have you heard of next season's Flowers of Evil (Aku no Hana I think)? Seems very promising.

Oh, and Go Ravens!

Katherine Hanson said...

@Anon- Creepy old pervert can be funny, but only if it's not really a creepy, old pervert. Not sure I follow that, but yeah, he is definitely is revolting.

So basically, Love Live becomes awesome. (I am going to give the next 2 eps a shot, because I hear the show finds its footing during them.)

I didn't compare Girls und Panzer to Vivired because of their stories- I compared them because they both got more hype in advance than most series because of their connections to Strike Witches but GuP isn't servicey while Vivired is similar to SW in that respect.

I haven't looked much at what's airing this spring, although I plan to check out Urobuchi Gen's next series. I've just read Aku no Hana's description- not my cup of tea.

Congrats on the Ravens!

Anonymous said...

Although I can understand what you're saying about ___48, I started the 2nd season before all the broohaha started, and now I'm unable to rip myself away from watching each episode immediately after it airs. a)the yuri subtext is through the roof b)the plotline is actually quite good, and c)(spoilars), (spoilars), and it's (spoilar).

The second season (actually, pretty much just a direct continuation of the first season) is actually even better than the first. It really gets into the characters' minds, etc.

I've got a solution to not supporting it but still being able to watch it at the same time: (fansubs) ( ゚∀゚)アハハ八八ノヽノヽノヽノ \ / \/ \ *Removes tongue from cheek after being shot*

Katherine Hanson said...

@Ichigo_69- Man, it does sound like a good sequel season. =( Will still bow out of starting it, though.

Anonymous said...

Psycho Pass was great uvu

Katherine Hanson said...

@Anon- Yeah, season 1 is one of my favorite shows! (I'm cooler on season 2, as I wrote for Okazu here. Still love the original flavor, though.)