Ushinawareta and Kokkuri-san 2 and 3

October 21, 2014 1 comment

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The last time I looked at Ushinawareta Mirai wo Motomete, two weeks ago, the astronomy club was breaking up fights and half-assedly planning a planetarium for the festival, then Kaori died and everyone died, and then we jump back in time. No time jumps in episode 2. There’s an earthquake or something, then Sou and Kaori discover a naked girl on the building’s top floor. Soon enough she’s transferred into the school and joined the astronomy club, because a stranger being naked with memory loss isn’t enough of situation to bring to the authorities. Also, she knows Sou’s name. Everyone scratches their heads about that, but not too much. Yui (naked girl) becomes sort of a innocent lamb to the group, one that needs looking after, and the whole episode becomes a long, dull series of days and trying on waitress clothes, looking for a ghost that we know won’t be explained this episode, until we get some plot at the very end, nothing tragic this time. Really, I could do without the dithering in this series. But we’ll see how episode three goes …

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… and now I have no idea where the show is going at all. Well, we do know that Yui is there to keep Kaori from getting killed. We just don’t know why. In this episode she interferes enough in the Judo/Karate club scuffle that Kaori doesn’t injure her leg, which is step one. I keep waiting for a cruel trick to happen and have her injure her leg anyway, but the show apparently isn’t going to do that to us. Instead, Sou gets punched in the face. In exchange for Kaori’s life I think everyone must be happy with the deal, but it bugs Yui. What the show IS going to do is confound us with the ghost sightings. We have real, ghostly appearances by obviously Yui, in her cute hat, which is part of the story, but they get pushed aside as we discover that another club is fabricating ghosts of their own, thus wasting the Astronomy Club’s time, and ours. The whole memories bit concerning how Airi met Kaori made me feel the same way. So they are no closer to unraveling the mystery. In fact, they think the mystery is solved. Meanwhile, the clock is still ticking on Kaori, and we barely know a thing more.

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Gugure! Kokkuri-san 1 was maybe the most impressive opener of the season. That sounds strange, but I don’t recall a series that can jump from gags to pathos back to gags without overdoing one or the other, and they make it look easy. So I was sure that subsequent episodes would not live up to the promise. Happily, while there might be a letdown due to familiarity, episodes 2 and 3 are still plenty good. #2 is maybe better, since it has some fun with character designs by having Kohina try and smile, making her facial features slip around and occasionally fall off. Introducing Inugami looked to be a letdown because Kokkuri would have to be on guard against him constantly, for the rest of the series, but making the dog-god a stalker is a excellent touch.

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And episode 3 does indeed have too many confrontations (like, nearly the entire episode’s worth) between the fox and the dog. And at the end we get a NEW troublesome spirit to bother poor Kohina. But before you worry that the show is going to wind up as little more than wacky spirit fighting, we get wonderful, odd bits like Kohina’s epic monologue on the endearing braveness of fake fried soba noodles, which expands into a rumination on the validity of identity, while Kokkuri can only gape. Indeed, the creators have made it so Kohina can make big, sort-of wise pronouncements or behave like a withdrawn little girl, both with that flat monotone she has. So far the show has used its comic weapons well.

Twos and threes: Wixoss, Vanadis

October 19, 2014 6 comments

Now that I’ve finished all the episode ones I planned to watch, it’s time to catch up with episode twos … and threes, oh boy …

We’ll start with selector spread WIXOSS, that happiest of shows, with its messed up situation, which in episode two, somehow, they manage to make even MORE messed up. I had hoped last season that the show had not forgotten about Akira, with her rage and button pushing, and I’m happy to report that she’s back and nastier than ever. HOW she got that way is the twisted part. Iona is Ruuko’s Lrig, leaving Iona’s body open to Iona’s old Lrig, Ulith, and she’s in love with Akira. And she gets Akira to fall for her, too. So the woman who saves Akira from despair is in the body of a woman whom she despises.

Speaking of twisted ...

Speaking of twisted …

Not that Akira minds; she’s got someone to love now, a good makeup artist, the only thing missing is that sheer rage, and it seems that Ulith is in love with THAT, not with Akira herself. So to stay in the good graces of the one she loves, she’s got to get her hate on. All this is much more interesting than what’s going on with Ruuko, who makes no progress on her own but nearly uses a battle to the fired-up Akira, mainly because she doesn’t have any motivation, really, and has, with Iona, an Lrig who second-guesses her strategy. Just what she needs. Anyway, that’s episode two.

No, this is not Madoka Magica, it's not even Shaft.  Why do you ask?

No, this is not Madoka Magica, it’s not even Shaft. Why do you ask?

In episode three they find another twist, and we gain a little more information about that over-saturated whitespace, where we now find Tama weeping. The mysterious Mayu appears and tries to convince Tama that Ruuko was a big liar, but Tama isn’t buying it. And then we see Mayu’s big flaw: she’s afraid of being alone there. But she agrees to send Tama back with a “You’ll be sorry!” line. And she probably is, and so is Ruuko. I had expected the two of them to meet again farther along in the series, but I suppose the show will take every opportunity to twist that knife. But the best scene is where Hitoe and Yuzuki scold Ruuko for fighting Akira alone, while Iona the Lrig fumes that the girls are misleading her. It hits me that so few of the characters are acting out of malice, at least now. Akira is fighting for Ulith’s sake, really. Iona honestly lusts for battle and believes that Ruuko does too if those meddling friends would shut up. Only Ulrith seems to be purely malicious, and I suspect we’ll get to the bottom of that soon enough.

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Now, catching up with Madan no Ou to Vanadis, a name that means nothing to me in the blur of first episode watching, unless you add “that show about the young lord who is captured by the enemy commanded by hot warrior babes who treat him a lot better than his lousy kingdom ever did,” and then I’m a little more interested. In the second and third episodes Vorn talks Elen into borrowing her army to defeat his old country because they’re about to pillage his piece of land. Elen admires his hubris, and probably other things, while Vorn just wants to defend his home now. Meanwhile, Alsace is overrun by bad knights and the loser commander Zion is about to assault innocent little Titta the maid, when the good guys show up.

That's one down ...

That’s one down …

And it leads to battle strategies described by a narrator, some not-great action scenes, and wonderment (on my part) why Zion didn’t just bring in his two dragons in the first place. Okay, one gets killed by Elen’s windy sword, but then he just uses the more formidable one to make his getaway, or tried to, anyway, as it turns out that Elen’s magic sword is as interested in Vorn’s now-magic bow as Elen is in Vorn. I must say, it’s a shame when trained animals get killed in a human battle, and you don’t see too many dragons around. A shame they both had to go like that. Yes, it’s all pretty silly, and I’ll wait a bit to see if I want to keep watching or cut it off here at this convenient story arc break.

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New 2014 Fall #7

October 17, 2014 Leave a comment
We start with tweeting birdies!

We start with tweeting birdies!

I started watching Bonjour: Koiaji Patisserie expecting to see a story about a girl entering sweets school and meeting handsome boys and making enemies with the other girls, but after the semester opening ceremony the screen went out. Huh? Episode one is only five minutes? They were just getting started! I was getting ready for her to meet the handsome men, and a hazing scene or two, and then I would drop it.

The show wastes no time.

The show wastes no time.

Well, I did see the enemies, and the boys were introduced, nothing exciting there. The bad boy, the aloof boy, the boyish boy, the suave boy, all routine. The heroine, Sayuri, was as dull as predicted, though her sidekick Ran has possibilities. But for this sort of thing I’ll just stick with my memories of Yumeiro Patisserie, though the target audience is different.

Cute stuffed animals.

Cute stuffed animals.

In Girlfriend (Beta) or (Kari) we follow Kokomi, a high school second year, as she wakes up, goes to rhythmic gymnastic practice, and gets chatted up by a number of girls, including a French exchange student Chloe, who drops a photo. Seeking to return it, Kokomi goes from classroom to clubroom to library looking for her, a chance for us to get introduced to a lot of other girls, until Chloe runs into her, and that’s it for episode one.

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This might work if you take it in the spirit of a healing anime like Aria or Tamayura, because if you don’t it’s incredibly dull. Since the story for the week is finding Chloe, the conversations rarely go past “Have you seen ..?” or “Oh, you’re that girl who’s …” What’s more, the seiyuus must have been told to make their delivery slow and flat; none of them except maybe Yuuki Aoi as the flower-arranging girl has any sort of life to them. The animation and art aren’t much to look at, either. But because there’s a small army of seiyuus working on this series I’m going to keep an eye on it just to see if they’re all going to be misused like the ones in episode one are.

I wish Yuuki Yuuna had come first.  It would have been nice to start this series with a curtain opening.

I wish Yuuki Yuuna had come first. It would have been nice to start this series with a curtain opening.

And, phew, finally we have the first episode of Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru, where we follow Yuuki and her three friends, members of their middle school heroes club (like Lagrange’s), going around helping whatever club or person needs it. They cutely do (and nearly botch) an elementary school puppet play, and next they’re going to find owners for kittens! The club prez, Fu, is a glutton, Togo’s in a wheelchair, Itsuki is devoted to her sister, all cute quirks, well, not the wheelchair, but since we rarely see physically disabled characters in anime, she becomes interesting just for that fact. So I was watching this, weighing the cuteness level, waiting for the kittens, when weirdness strikes.

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Fu’s been hiding something from them. They’ve been chosen as defenders of Earth, or warriors for Shinju-Sama, maybe both. The strange world they’re thrown into is colorful, rich, and pretty, a forest I’d like to walk around in. But there’s a evil thing there and they must defeat it. Fu, maybe you should have told the girls sooner that they’d be transformed into magical girls and doing life-or-death battles! While we watch the transformations and the awkward bouncing around as they get used to flying (well, Itsuki), we also get Fu’s clumsy infodump about what’s going on, while she’s battling, of course. And we watch Yuuki gather herself together and show her mettle … but we’re out of time.

Whee!  Oh, Itsuki-chan, look out for that--

Whee! Oh, Itsuki-chan, look out for that–

Okay, it’s most likely a routine magical girl show but with extraordinary art and animation lifting it up. The Itsuki trying to fly sequence is maybe the most striking visual bit of the new season so far. The world is all colorful branches and leaves and flying petals, and the characters leaping through it all is dazzling to look at. Whether this is enough to overcome the probably mundane story can’t be determined yet, but it’s interesting that Togo, in her wheelchair, did not try to transform because she felt she could do nothing. There’s a story angle you don’t normally see. This one is definitely worth keeping an eye one.

And that’s it. The only show remaining for me is Mushishi, but I don’t need to tell you to watch it. Now to decide what to keep or dump and what to write about.

New 2014 Fall #6

October 15, 2014 3 comments

Whoah, I’m almost a week behind!

nice opening bit to Daitoshokan.

Nice opening bit to Daitoshokan.

Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai starts with an eye-catching scene of the young Kakei reading and a man approaching him to talk about a book with all the world’s wisdom in a magic library, that Kakei can go there if he’s good and pure of heart, etc etc, and oh, here’s a ticket to the place. It’s done with an art style you don’t see in most anime, very nice, almost dreamy to look at, so it’s a shame when we flash-forward and get a lot of high school girls with big boobs and short skirts, you know, the usual. The high school Kakei gets premonitions, and one he has today leads to a misunderstanding involving molestation, and the usual comic fallout.

Tsugumi's grand ambitions are revealed.

Tsugumi’s grand ambitions are revealed.

In the end, the gropee, Tsugumi gets him to join her “happy club” or something, and other people are dragged in as well. I was less interested in that than I was in the fact that their high school has 50,000 students, more than most large universities in America. In fact, it would be fun if they explored the school some more, but the show is probably going to ignore that and focus on these rather dull characters while we all wait to figure out who this “shepherd” character is who keeps texting Kakei. Dunno. I’ll think about watching more. Overall it looks pretty harmless.

The earth, about to be invaded.

The earth, about to be invaded.

Parasyte has been available in the west for years, possibly even out of print now. I haven’t read it but I remember seeing two iconic images, one of a woman and a man with a carnivorous flowerhead, facing each other, and the subsequent image of, well, if you’ve seen episode one you already know. I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu (which, from now on I’ll call Parasyte, like everyone else). Now that I’ve seen episode one I haven’t changed my mind, but I’m a little more reluctant to drop it.

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First, they took care of those iconic images right away, though there’s plenty of gore to come. Second, since the manga is about 25 years old, the character designs different from what we get nowadays, though they’ve updated everything else, like the flatscreens and smartphones. Third, it’s quite often funny. The alien in poor Shinichi’s hand speaks in a funny alien voice and can change into the most amusing shapes. If this situation wasn’t a matter of life or death for both of them, I’d say they make a pretty good comedy team. And that’s where I see the charm of it. After all, those two iconic images, put in sequence, are funny as hell. But just not for my tastes, probably.

Nice view, but the show quickly moves elsewhere.

Nice view, but the show quickly moves elsewhere.

Shirobako starts with a handful of plucky high school animation club girls putting together a piece for the festival. Just when I think I’ve got a grip on things, they’ve graduated and we follow one of the girls, Oi, as she works as a gopher for Musashino animation (Ema, one of the others, works for them too, so it looks like we’ll be following all the girls around eventually). Their first big show, Exodus, is production, and there’s a crisis as something isn’t drawn, or something, and that might delay the dubbing, or this or that, anyway, there’s a domino effect with future episodes falling behind.

Um, okay ... what?

Um, okay … what?

It’s partly fascinating if you like “behind the scenes” shows, and partly bewildering. We’re dumped right into the action and unless you know something about the animation process you’ll wind up like me, wondering what part of the process fits into what. Not only that, but the staff of Musashino are quickly introduced with names and titles on the screen (I hate that) as the events fly by, no time to take in what they do or what their professional relationships are. It’ll take a few episodes to get it sorted out, which I’m willing to do, because I like behind the scenes shows and, for all the stress, this is a cheerful one. I liked the drift racing maneuvers as Oi rushes from one office to another, and all the donuts. Donuts are always good.

Cherry blossoms, the beginning of new things, etc.

Cherry blossoms, the beginning of new things, etc.

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso looks to be a high school romance between a frustrated pianist named Kousei and free-spirited Kaori, a practicing violinist, though right now the two aren’t particularly fond of one another, thanks to one of those “pervert!” moments anime is so fond of giving us. Kousei was forced at an early age to practice and practice by his infirm, abusive mother, and after she died his interest and ability froze up, as well it might when he finally doesn’t have to do something he gets hit over not doing. He’s supposed to be supporting cast on a date where his ladykiller buddy Watari is to meet Kaori, and stuff happens.

I guess this is "meeting cute."

I guess this is “meeting cute.”

It looks great, almost too pretty, maybe to accentuate the monotone vs colorful way of viewing the world that the show constantly states through the characters. It’s got some well-timed laughs as well. The theme where the free-spirited musical girl awakens the hopes and dreams of a dull boy doesn’t really interest me, since it’s already been done. I loved, however, that Kaori right now has the hots for Watari, who’s not only a musician, but an athlete to boot (and Tsubaki, the best friend girl, plays baseball–a little too passionately). Overall it’s very well done; hopefully the trite plot can be overcome by the solid execution they showed in the first episode.

On the other hand, cherry blossoms are a bit of a cliche ...

On the other hand, cherry blossoms are a bit of a cliche …

I really should drop Ore, Twintails ni Narimasu now, but I can’t resist. We have a boy named Souji entering high school, like everyone in the world in anime, except Souji is obsessed with twintails. He and his pal Aika (put in the show probably to show that Souji isn’t a total creep and pervert) encounter a weirdo named … let me look at my notes … Thuearle, who comes on to him in a shamelessly earnest way and sticks a bracelet on him. Next thing you know there are lizard aliens invading, snatching up girls and stealing their “twintail attribute.” A shocked and indignant Souji then transforms into a fighting, armored, twintail girl.

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If you strip away the situation it’s another story about an ordinary person encountering evil and the means to fight it, and it’s not terribly good. It’s livened up a little by the changing genders, but they used that gag already (however, I like how he gets to name his female self and is encouraged to “make a stylish entrance”). The funniest thing in the show is the obsession with twintails. Souji seems like a decent enough person except for that. It’s more like a spiritual passion than a fetish. The fact that the aliens are also so obsessed means we get a lot of “No, not the twintails!” lines, which will probably fall flat in another episode or two. But the whole thing is so silly that I’ll keep watching for now to see if they can keep it fresh.

New 2014 Fall #5

October 14, 2014 Leave a comment
That's a bullet in the barrel of a magical rifle.

That’s a bullet in the barrel of a magical rifle.

I don’t know how I missed Amagi Brilliant Park #1, and the next thing you know, #2 had come out. Anyway, as you all know by now, this is about narcissistic high schooler Kanie, who is forced at gunpoint to visit the titular park, the most dismal place in Japan. Then he’s entrusted with the job getting 250,000 visitors in three months, or the fairies who run the place will die, or cease to exist, or something. Episode one treated us to some of the exhibits, all of them terrible or terribly weird. Kanie wants nothing to do with it, but for some reason turns around in episode two.

Kanie riles up the theme park's staff.

Kanie riles up the theme park’s staff.

Production wise, it’s Kyoto Animation, meaning that it looks great and the animation is ahead of most the shows out there now. As for the story, while episode one was done with the the studio’s typical witty style (I loved Isuzu’s deadpan description of each exhibit), something felt lacking. Maybe it was the question why Kanie was chosen for this role of manager. But episode two, more predictable it its story, got me more interested. Maybe it’s Kanie himself. He’s not likable, but will show sudden flashes of insight or deduction that shows he cares more than he’s letting on. His grand, insulting speech to the despondent park staff was partly a ploy to shake them up, but also a chance to let off some steam for the ridiculous situation he’s in, and yet he could have just walked away. Why he didn’t is going to be as big a part of the story as the number-crunching toward 250,000.

Fall leaves to set the mood.

Fall leaves to set the mood.

Inou Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de … Well, Trigger can’t do a Kill la Kill every season, can they? Don’t answer that. But I didn’t expect an average high school comedy where the members of the lit club suddenly and inexplicably get super powers. I also didn’t expect an average first episode where we are given a brief flashback to when they all got their powers and a present day one where they meet someone else that does that felt like nothing more than an attempt to introduce the characters and their predictable traits, plus the super powers …

Our SUPER-POWERED HEROE MEET ANOTHER SUPER-POWERED HERO!

Our SUPER-POWERED HEROE MEET ANOTHER SUPER-POWERED HERO!

It’s not bad, really, but a bit of a letdown considering we’re talking about Trigger. Instead, or maybe it’s all the Chuuni talk in the show, but it felt like the show is trying hard to imitate the recent style of Kyoani, and failing partly because they don’t have the budget. Another problem is that none of the characters are very interesting so far. They’re all types we’ve seen before, plus, Andou, the one male in the group, is annoying, though there was the wise decision by the power-granter (I hope it’s not the smirking bishie we see at the end) to give him an appropriate power, one that looks really cool but that he can’t hurt anyone with. The other girls, more sensible, are given powers that could really screw someone up. More interesting is the mystery of WHY they have the powers, why the stranger, Kudou, got hers but not at the same time, whether we’ll meet others like them, you know, boring backstory stuff.

This is Yona, after the fall.

This is Yona, after the fall.

Don’t know about Akatsuki no Yona. It’s a straightforward tale about a Princess Yoma, a little spoiled and pampered but not a brat, who meets her beloved Soo-Won around her sixteenth birthday, to the hidden dismay of Hak, one of the lead generals. We all know something bad is going to happen because the prologue is a flash-forward to her on the road, and near the end it happens. If I hadn’t read a description already I would have been shocked.

Who can sleep with the noise of you killing my father?

Who can sleep with the noise of you killing my father?

It want to be big and grand, like that other show, except the animation isn’t as nice. On the other hand, Yona isn’t annoying, and the story looks capable of giving us a few interesting twists. And like that other show this season where a princess is brought down to earth, there is no sexual abuse or cavity searches. I didn’t much care for the little internal monologues they give Yona, endless talk about love and putting people in danger. It’s an odd contrast to her often cartoonish behavior, and often isn’t needed. And I’m not looking forward to the future scenes of the princess being forced to live like the peasants do. Still, good enough to keep an eye on.

Arata is falling through the depths, you see.

Arata is falling through the depths, you see.

Hoo boy, Trinity Seven might be decent or horrible. I don’t think it’s going to be good. We have Arata, living with his cousin Himiji, who, one day while walking to school, notices that the sun is black. After half a day he decides this is kind of strange and asks Himiji about it, only to discover that she’s not Himiji, the town isn’t what it seems, and he’s not supposed to notice. Then another schoolgirl named Lilith shows up and the two girls give him a briefing about the awful truth while staring daggers at each other. Next thing you know he’s off to magic school, not to save the town or the world or anything, but to get his cousin back and become a harem lead.

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I suppose that’s as good a motivation as any, considering that Arata is a basic lust-filled adolescent boy who’s upfront about it more than usual. At least he’s not a wuss. The Trinity Seven of the title are a bunch of gifted magic girls, and his harem, and the show goes from supernatural mystery-laden danger to harem antics pretty quickly. The fact that Arata obviously enjoys his role of harem leader is going to help, because everything else in the show isn’t very interesting right now. On the other hand, we’ve only met two of the girls so far … no, three. I forgot the one in the bath. I have nothing against harems, and I like supernatural light shows, so we’ll see.

Falling to the school.

Falling to the school.

Hi sCoool! Seha Girl … Do I really want to write about this? … We have three girls, living versions of three Sega game consoles, entering a weird school where they learn about various Sega games by being sucked into them. I’m trying to wrap my head around the concept: game consoles becoming characters in the games people used to play on them. Since the first is a fighting game, I expect we’ll see the girls, er, consoles, get beaten up a lot. That might be interesting for some.

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It’s done in that gdgd fairies style of animation and is full of Sega in-jokes. Since I don’t game much it’s all going to go whoosh over my head. It’s also sort of ugly to look at. I’ll leave it for the fans of old Sega games, both of you.

New 2014 Fall #4

October 12, 2014 2 comments

Hello again.

Episode 1 sets the mood with pretty sunflowers.

Episode 1 sets the mood with pretty sunflowers.

I glanced at Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji, but I dunno. Shoujo shows where everyone is manipulative and a little cruel don’t do much for me, so I decided to skip it and look at potentially a more serious or silly show, Sora no Method. Where a girl named Nonoka is returning to her old town after the death of a parent, sort of like Tamayura except here it’s the mother who died, what’s more, there’s a big disk in the sky. As she moves into her old home she finds (after noticing her existence) a strange girl named Noel, delighted to see Nonoka again, if only Nonoka could remember who she is. It leads to a “go away! … Wait, I didn’t mean it!” scene where Nonoka runs all over town, falls into mud, gets rained on, etc. Meanwhile, I was watching with confusion. She SEEMS to remember this weird girl, she’s important to her past, but to get so freaked out about it, and let’s not forget that disk in the sky.

What IS that?

What IS that?

I’m sure the disk will be explained sooner or later. The town residents are completely used to it and think of it as nothing more than a tourist attraction now. Two side characters who will become important later (since they’re in the ED) talk almost cynically about this odd miracle in their sky. The final girl, who recognizes Nonoka (but not vice-versa, in fact, Nonoka seems to remember hardly anyone) from seven years ago, only says cryptic things about returning. Well, some mystery is inevitable for a show like this. I hope it doesn’t turn into something like that 2011 show with ghost girl where everyone cried half the time, and that everyone loved except me. There WAS sobbing in episode one here, but maybe they can turn off the waterworks later on. Who am I kidding?

We start with a spooky-looking shrine.

We start with a spooky-looking shrine.

Gugure! Kokkuri-san is about a lonely little girl named Kohina who summons a spirit because there’s nothing better to do. When a fox spirit Kokkuri shows up to haunt her (NEVER play this game alone) we expect her to be frightened, or at least surprised. Instead she locks the window on him. When he breaks it she tells him to pay for the window. Every time he ups his threats she responds that it doesn’t matter, because she’s a doll, and maybe she is. She has speaks in a monotone and for the most part shows no emotion at all. Also, she lives alone and lives on cup noodles. Kokkuri winds up haunting her, but now that means he cooks her decent food and does the housework.

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My description makes it sound dire, but episode one is great fun, most of the time (The thing scene about Google could have been excised). Kohina will “call” on Kokkuri with a chant, “Kokkuri-san, Kokkuri-san,” which becomes a running gag and a rhythmic point for many of the gags, and Kohina’s constant monotone delivery help as well. The series is given a heart early on when hearing Kohina referring to herself as a doll with no heart, free of emotions. “Dolls are unaffected when others draw away from them. Eating lunch alone at school does not unnerve me….” Later, when Kokkuri gets fed up and leaves her, the mood is as sad as any more serious anime show. But fortunately, the Kokkuri and the gags come back. Not often that a show can jump from one mood to another so easily. I’m definitely keeping this for now.

I think Tenchi is going to fall through those trees ...

I think Tenchi is going to fall through those trees …

In Ai Tenchi Muyou, Tenchi becomes a student teacher at an all-girl school. You can imagine what happens.

Tenchi's always interesting life.

Tenchi’s always interesting life.

Too early to tell why he’s there, and does it really matter? The first four episodes are silly and raunchy (and incoherent–what was episode three doing there? It looked like they were starting again from scratch), and at the moment Tenchi is about to be strip-searched for the second time that day … I’m reminded more of To Love Ru than Tenchi Muyou, but I haven’t seen all of the original series and it’s been a while. Also, Ryoko hasn’t shown up yet (though other characters have), and it’s not Tenchi Muyou without her, I say. On the other hand this is a four-minute episode series that’s coming out once a day, and you can’t introduce everyone instantly.

Big dragon-demon battle underway, just offscreen.

Big dragon-demon battle underway, just offscreen.

Shingeki no Bahamut GENESIS is going for the big, sweeping, grand story. It might actually get there, too, if you can stand any of the characters. We start with a great battle scene where some big cosmic things team up to defeat a giant dragon. It’s great to look at, full of violence, and lights, and with an orchestral score to go with it. Too bad it’s a flashback. Soon we’re in the “present day” in yet another European medieval town where two skilled swordsmen battle from their horses and from a big rolling wheel that has no explanation. After THAT settles down one of them, Favaro, while boasting about his abilities to some women, gets an offer from another woman, meets up with the other swordsman, Kaiser, and kill off some bad guys who keep conjuring demons. And there’s a humorous ending to the episode.

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Which would all be great except that Favaro drives me up the wall. He’s one of those highly-skilled but totally irresponsible types, constantly boasting to people and trying to rip them off. His enemy/ally, Kaiser, is a rich stick-in-the-mud, and potentially as bad but the episode decides to focus on Favaro. Meanwhile I was hoping the episode would have one of those gimmicky shock endings where he gets killed, but alas, all that happens, well … A shame, because the show does look good and the creators are taking the action scenes seriously. But I can’t stomach the thought of watching Favaro every week.

A merman reading in a bathtub.

A merman reading in a bathtub.

Orenchi no Furo Jijou is a short show about a young man, Tatsumi, who rescues another young man, Wakasa, who turns out to be a merman and starts living in Tatsumi’s bathtub because he doesn’t want to return to the river. You can’t blame him, with all the pollution and all. And that’s about it.

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Wakasa is about as annoying as Favaro. He’s a freeloader who demands special treatment and does absolutely nothing to pay Tatsumi back. Tatsumi, meanwhile, has no idea what to do with him, and I suppose that’s how it will go for the rest of the series.

New 2014 Fall #3

October 10, 2014 2 comments

By the way, this is post #1000. I hope you’re enjoying me so far …

Hi Rin!

Hi Rin!

We’ll start with Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works. The original FSN came out back in my earliest days of anime viewing, and I can still remember me as a wee lad, staring at the screen, saying cute things like “Damn it Shirou! Quit being so goddamn noble and let Saber fight for once! She can kick ass a lot better than you!” Fortunately, the UBW version, which I’m not familiar with, focuses on arguably anime’s greatest tsundere, Rin, and episode one shows her working hard to conjure up her ideal servant, Saber. We all know what happens …

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Much of it is a delight. Archer takes one look at his new master and decides she couldn’t possibly do the job, while Rin is still pissed off that Archer isn’t the one she wanted. So we get a lot of snarking and retorts, and a command spell to demonstrate who’s boss here, not that we at home needed to know. But once the dust settles (or after Archer cleans it up … heh) they stop with the insults. Mutual respect, with a few sarcastic lines, replace them. And we watch Rin being bossy, smart, absent-minded (I can’t believe she forgot about the clocks) and blushingly cute. The only weak points come from the infodumps they insert to clue in new viewers. After that it’s time to get to the plot, a wounded Shirou, a fight with Lancer, and Saber’s appearance. I don’t know if I’ll write about or follow this show, but I think the serious fans of the franchise are in for a treat.

We start with Angelize's golden hair.

We start with Angelize’s golden hair.

Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo starts with half-naked women riding mecha fighting a bunch of dragons. One of the women, Ange, is obviously our star. Then we swich to a flashback of how she got to be fighting dragons and we see this happy kingdom called Misurugi, where all the happy people use “mana” to take care of their problems. It’s a happy land, because all the people who can’t use mana (normas) are imprisoned, I guess to fight those dragons. Princess Angelize is about to turn 16 when it’s revealed that she’s a norma, and a combination of that and some palace intrigues gets her stuck in an all-women’s prison camp, with, apparently, everything that comes to one’s sick mind when you think of them, happening to her.

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About the only thing that would make this remotely interesting to me would be if she started a political uprising and overthrew the regime, and that might happen; the show takes pains to show how unfairly norma are treated, even before the cavity searches at the end. But it looks for the moment like Ange is going to do nothing but battle dragons and flash her panties at every opportunity, not my cup of tea. The storytelling wasn’t bad, but it’s awfully predictable, and I’m not buying into this society they’ve built up. Pass.

That thing is a fearsome bamster.  Isn't it cute?

That thing is a fearsome bamster. Isn’t it cute?

World Trigger … I don’t know if I have the strength for this … After a brief battle where “four-eyes” is rescued by some hero kid, we get a lengthy exposition about how aliens (whimsically named “neighbors”) from another dimension showed up in a peaceful city and started wreaking havoc, and the Border agency that pops up in a ridiculously large and crude-looking fortress to fight back. “four-eyes” is actually a kid named Mikumo where he’s entrusted with the diminutive transfer student named Yuma, who of course is more than he seems. After some bullying scenes we get another Neighbor attack, this one nicknamed a bamster (another cute name), and the identities of both Yuma and Mikumo are revealed.

I like this guy.

I like this guy.

Nope. The show feels crude. The artwork and animation (what there is of it) certainly are, and the infodump they started with and the subsequent classroom scene reminded me of Magic Kaito, and that’s not good. Yuma’s calmness and lack of any definite morals are the best thing in the show, because you’re never sure what side he’s on or what he’ll even say next. But he otherwise got on my nerves. Mikumo is your typical do-the-right-thing-and-get-beaten-up loser hero type, also not appealing. And the bamsters aren’t much better. Okay, it’s a show for kids, and they might like it, but there are better shows out there for me to watch … er, I hope. I haven’t found much yet this season …

A typical medieval castle.

A typical medieval castle.

Nanatsu no Taizai is another shonen show but it has a more up-to-date feel to it. We start the aftermath of a massacre, where a dozen or so Holy Knights get slaughtered by evil people called the Seven Deadly Sins, who then vanished or something. The too-long infodump (but shorter than the one in World Trigger) is vague on that. Jump forward to now and we have a kid running an inn with his talking pig buddy, getting along with the generic medieval European peasants, when the Wandering Rust Knight arrives and scares everyone off. Turns off it’s a girl in disguise, looking for the Seven Deadly Sins because the Holy Knights have just accomplished a palace coup. Then some of those knights show up to capture/kill her, and both her and the kid running the inn’s true identities are revealed.

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It’s a fun first episode. The kid, Meliodas, manages to be brave and plucky without being terribly annoying, even when he’s innocently groping the girl’s boob. The girl doesn’t have much of a personality yet. The pig (named Hawk) nearly steals the limelight from both them. They sneak in little mysteries to keep us interested, like the kid’s inn not being there last week, though they used up most of them already and the next few episodes will involve collecting the other Sins. Also, there’s a Holy Warrior guy who witnessed the slaughter ten years ago and now is out for revenge, making him a good guy fighting for the wrong side. The animation isn’t much better than World Trigger, but the art is very nice for the kind of show this is. I won’t write about it, probably, but I might keep watching.

Out of these monstrous depths will appear ... an apple.

Out of these monstrous depths will appear … an apple.

Finally, we have Grisaia no Kajitsu, where Yuuji, an abnormal high school boy, wants a normal high school life, and so has been placed by the Ministry of Defense in a normal-looking high school where there are only five other students, all girls, all weirder than he is. We meet them one by one: Sachi, who dresses as a maid, Amane, who changes clothes in his room, Makina, a child who can barely have a normal conversation, Michiru … let’s call her a tsundere, and finally the aloof, possibly deadly Yumiko. All of them are put through their paces, which includes numerous panty shots, as they meet Yuuji, while we get hints as to why they’re all there and what their dark pasts are. And why Yuuji has deadly weapons under his bed. Episode two is called “School Murderer Yumiko,” something to look forward to.

The entire class, save Yumiko, who's plottng murderous things no doubt.

The entire class, save Yumiko, who’s plottng murderous things no doubt.

Not bad. None of the girls are terribly annoying yet. In fact, Michiru has a lengthy scene full of weird behavior yet the show manages to pull it off. The weak point so far is Yuuji himself. In episode one he’s a straight man and a Tatsuya-level bore and little else. But the unexplained things, like what they’re all doing at that government-run school, or why Yuuji knew Yumiko would try to slice him with a box cutter, are interesting enough that I’ll keep watching for now. Besides, unlike a lot of people I tend to like harem series.

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