Twintails and Yuki Yuna 2-3

October 30, 2014 Leave a comment

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Ore, Twintails ni Narimasu remains amusing through its second and third episodes, even with predictability in the story. The hero(ine) gets his/her powers, then proceeds to get allies with their own abilities. Which was actually episode three. Episode TWO was basically an infodump, a look at this fetishistic enemy, and everyone settling in to Souji’s place for their headquarters, with his mom’s blessing and Aika grumbling next door, so we’re have potential for a domestic comedy as well, one pervier than most. Inevitably, Aika becomes another twintail heroine in episode three after Souji is trapped by the alien of the week (the show actually mentions this concept–it likes to wink at us), but it’s amusing that the witnesses later refer to her as a copycat hero, a good spin to keep a stale storyline fresh. The show’s been pretty good at that so far, e.g. The “What would a guy do if he was in a woman’s body?” question is answered with two girls spying on him, and the answer is EVEN MORE DISGUSTING THAN YOU THINK!

A fair question.

A fair question.

Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru 2 takes care of a one thing earlier than I expected. But first, we get the infodump, Fuu telling us things we already learned in episode one, though this sort of makes it official. It also suggests that these attacks don’t come very often, whereupon there’s the second emergency call in as many days–suspicious. But mainly the infodump lapses into accusations on Tougou’s part: how dare Fuu enlist these girls and put them in danger without warning them, or giving them a choice. And she’s quite right. That this is mixed in with Tougou’s frustration and guilt about not being able to help only adds some depth to the situation. Which leads us to the second part, where THREE monsters attack and Tougou is forced to transform, as I said, earlier than I thought she would in the series.

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I can’t think of another series where a disabled person becomes a magical girl, or the equivalent. It’s very interesting. She has four pointed braces that serve as legs, and they carry her around probably with more ease than any of the other transformed girl moves. There’s no magical life in her real legs–they just dangle below her. Almost as interesting is the change in her attitude. Maybe she’s angry because her friends are in danger, but she puts on a cold-blooded face worthy of Homura. And she kicks ass just as much. There’s also the way she transforms–she seems shocked at first, then in an angry rush (though I could have done without the jiggling). While she goes back to being kind and gentle when the fighting is over, I hope to see her channel that anger again, hmm … maybe in the episode I’ll watch tomorrow …

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Alas, all the anger in episode three is reserved for Karin, the new girl, who knocks off a vertex single-handedly, gives some obvious backstory, and otherwise goes around acting like a tsundere, until she’s softened up by the other girls invading her place on her birthday. It’s all obviously done, insults and grandstanding early on, getting disoriented by the girls’ amused reaction to her (and her avatar getting chewed on by Yuna’s), getting invited to stuff she doesn’t want to do, getting involved against her will, grumbling and then letting out a smile, the whole bit. But her presence does raise a question: if she is indeed an improved, version 1.0 of the ass-kicking girls, with the others as betas, why don’t the rest of them get an upgrade?

Trinity Seven, Shirobako, and Shigatsu … 2-3

October 28, 2014 2 comments
Later the game is Strip Poker.

Later the game is Strip Poker.

Trinity Seven episodes 2 has Arata being observed by Arin as a sort of comic gag, except her reasons are intended to give us backstory. Then we get scene a scene where she’s trapped him (and three girls) in a barrier to see how he will react, sort of a mage testing, since he’s going to be a demon lord (what was that other show with a young demon lord? No, not the one with the baby …), so we can get more backstory, and later on he accidentally causes a reality breakdown that might threaten the entire school. Less backstory there, but the same amount of cult-babble throughout. This show probably uses the same random cult-babble generator as Raildex does. Anyway, he’s about to be killed when he’s whisked off by Yui, a nice girl in some other dimension, where we get more backstory, and then in the next episode he puts all he’s learned together and stops the world from breaking down.

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Sounds like your average fantasy anime, with no real villain yet (interesting). But I deliberately left out the filler, which was a lot of boob and butt shots, references to boobs (by both Arata and the girls), dialogue with double-entendres everywhere, which the show quickly and gleefully points out for us. After the world breakdown crisis they all head to a tropical island and show off swimsuits, or nothing, and one of Arata’s powers has a side effect of destroying clothing. And above all that, Arata’s split personality. On one side he’s an earnest young mage in training who wants his cousin back, who seeks and appreciates the help the other magic people give him. On the other, a rather blatant sex-obsessed adolescent who’s capable of making sexist remarks at anyone at anytime, no matter how serious the conversation. Some of the girls even play along. It gets too extreme sometimes, but I can’t resist the balance of magic show and commonplace lusts this show is chugging out right now. I’ll probably change my mind in a week or two.

Staff meeting.

Staff meeting.

I don’t know if I can handle writing about Shirobako; I’m exhausted just by watching them, especially episode three. As for #2, the madness is set up by the overall director (I still can’t get the names even though they flash them onscreen nearly as often as Kill la Kill did) deciding the main character in Exodus’s fourth episode is all wrong somehow, leading to much hand and neck-ringing from the episode’s staff. It’s a rather entertaining look at creative egos at work, since the episode director takes it as personal affront. Aoi, the newbie, sort of saves the day by leading the chief director to lead the rest into a shared hallucination, well, actually, it’s his passion for the series and the art form coming out. Either way, it’s a great scene.

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The pressure just gets worse in episode three. Basically Aoi runs all over the place getting bits of animation from one office to another, with some people being slower than others, or less reliable. Since she’s in charge of episode four (of Exodus, not Shirobako), there’s a lot of pressure on her. The other characters go about making her life a little better or worse depending on whether the plot needs it. Happy to say, they’re all basically supportive, too. Even the grouchy ones soften up after a moment. It’s her not fault. She’s working hard. And she couldn’t have predicted the ftp and backup servers all going down at once, meaning the other company can’t send their color stills … It’s all crazy, and I’d say it was worth it just for the education of the animation procedure I’m getting, but that all flies by so fast I can’t get a hold of it. It’s worth it anyway, because even though they’re flinging a lot at us they’re making it as interesting and entertaining as showing a workplace can be. I just hope everyone got some sleep after that. One more thing. The details the director wanted changed DO look better now …

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Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso 2 brings us Kaori’s recital, and just as important, Arima’s viewing of the recital. Naturally, she’s dazzling, the audience favorite, and Kaori falls in love with her without knowing that’s what it is. The scene itself is spiced up by a couple other things as well, firstly, it’s not a recital, but a competition, and full of the nervous vibes from both the performers and audience members. So it’s loaded with triggers for Arima. Also, Arima gets a chance to be nasty to Kaori, but decides to be as nice as possible instead, even knowing that her wild playing wouldn’t get her past the prelims (Does the audience favorite award get you to the next round? I didn’t catch that). The performances give off a Nodame vibe, which I welcome, though I wonder if the show is being faithful to the music. And then we get the awkwardness that is Kaori liking Watari, though he’s dating lots of girls that she doesn’t know about, and Arima’s role as middleman, wanting to set her straight for maybe selfish reasons but instead keeping silent for his friend.

Kaori gently helps Arima through his affliction.

Kaori gently helps Arima through his affliction.

Episode 3 is more predictable. There’s no time to consider the ethics of the cheating best friend, and we get a little introspection from Tsubaki, more of a clearing the romantic path for Kaori. But mostly the episode is getting Arima off his butt and on the piano stool as Kaori’s accompanist. I’m not sure whether I like the idea of Kaori jumping in and forcing Arima to deal with a serious issue, but she did lose her accompanist and desperately needs someone to fill in, and Arima’s somehow famous in musical circles (for what?). She might be foolish; she’s now seen his affliction first-hand (in an otherwise cute scene in a cafe), and to expect him to get over it so quickly feels naive, but she’s a wondrous sparkling girl full of life, after all … And the more Arima says no and we go into his head the more we’re on Kaori’s side. Fortunately, Kaori isn’t entirely full of self-pity, so he finally agrees, but it’s a shame that we don’t get to see the performance until next week.

More 2-3’s: Grisaia, Sora no Method, Inou Battle

October 25, 2014 Leave a comment
Yuuji's carefree school life.

Yuuji’s carefree school life.

(Just watched episode 2, will get to 3 tomorrow) Grisaia no Kajitsu is an odd one. It looks like just about every other series of its type, with its five girls who all react to Yuuji in different ways. But we’re constantly reminded that these people, and Yuuji, have dark pasts or nasty secrets that led them to this nearly empty facility, and I don’t mean dark in the typical girl way, I’m talking threats to national security or the equivalent. We have to consider all of them to be potentially deadly people, but frankly, it’s hard to imagine Makina (who is threatening to say “uguu!” any moment now) or Michiru being deadly about anything. Sakaki, yes, since she spends much of the episode comically trying to murder Yuuji with her box cutters. She’s so bad at it I can’t imagine how dangerous she actually is. And meanwhile the plot just sits there as Yuuji goes around interacting with each one.

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And episode doesn’t get much better. We’re treated to Amane doing disgusting things in Yuuji’s bed, while he watches, as disturbed as we are, but with even less emotion. Or his basic emotion, vaguely pissed-off. And basically most of the episode was like this, Yuuji looking on while one girl or another acts weird and he eggs them on using his male status. One exception was an actually cute little scene where Amane asks him to be her boyfriend, or barring that, his older sister, and we begin to see Yuuji’s basic weakness. He can’t really say no to a girl. There’s one other scene which is made effective (relatively) by Yuuji finally showing a weakness, when sleep deprivation makes him agree to something ridiculous, and his subsequent trying to worm his way out of it without being rude. Yuuji’s still a bore, but at least the show is letting the character develop a little.

You just cain't trust them marvelous apparitions.  Nope!

You just cain’t trust them marvelous apparitions. Nope!

For Sora no Method I’m writing about episode 2 before I watch episode 3, partly to write my impressions while they’re fresh, but mainly because I think I know what will happen next. The show is in its introducing side characters section, probably one girl at a time will get the spotlight. At first it looked to be Koharu, in her souvenir shop, but then Yuzuki drags Nonoka and the episode off to do her bidding, with mixed results. Her early scenes, where she rails on to Nonoka in a cafe about the saucer, is like any scene in real life where an innocent party gets a drunk conspiracy theorist sitting beside them at a bar, and it’s amusing enough for that. But she then begins to display a ridiculous lack of knowledge about the saucer, I mean, surely the government would have checked it out, taken measurements, you know, rational things. Then again, maybe in this show the government is as big an idiot as Yuzuki is … Anyway, we learn early on that she’s unhappy it’s there and she has some bad memories. Next week we’ll get to the next girl and HER bad memories. Maybe it’s headphone-girl.

Disdain, with some contempt thrown in.

Disdain, with some contempt thrown in.

(Having watched ep3) Well, they did spend some time with headphone girl, whom I should really call by her name, Shione, but most of it was Shione telling Nonoka how much she hated her. I was reminded of the “Die!” girl from Hanasaku Iroha. She has bad memories, too, but it’s more to do with Nonoka leaving town when they were all small than anything else. I suspect all the bad vibes have to do with that. Anyway, the girls go off orienteering, which in this show seems to mean going off to landmarks while we get the see the local scenery and sculptures–the show seems fond of them. We get some flashbacks when Nonoka gets lost, which shift almost comically from her to Shione as they remember that it was Nonoka who wanted to call down the saucer, so it’s all HER fault! Shione is trying to make Yuzuki her partner in hate for that reason, but I don’t understand why they dislike the saucer so much. It’s beautiful! It rotates! Maybe it distracts from the public sculptures on the ground, or looks too much like a Roger Dean cover. I dunno.

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As for Inō-Batoru wa Nichijō-kei no Naka de, episode three had Kudou misread a chuuni-style letter Andou wrote for her and assume they’re a couple, which she has no problem with, probably because she has no experience with it. Andou manfully clears up the misunderstanding before it gets too bad and there’s a nice talk between him and Tomoyo that help shows that he’s not the loser everyone makes him out to be. And that thought is continued while the girls later talk about his Chuuni habits and the nicknames he gave them all. I preferred the ones they gave themselves, actually, especially “Pineapple” Chifuyu. And later we meet Tomoyo’s brother, as big a chuuni as Andou, so they get along great, though it hints at family problems at home, which I’m sure we will get to later on, but next week it’s Chifuyu’s turn.

Tennis.

Tennis.

Oh, yeah, they all have super powers, remember? Okay, the characters occasionally use them in these two episodes, but usually as gag fodder, or the whole nicknames thing. Really, this is just a high school gag comedy roughly in the style of Seitokai no Ichizon–a club with one ridiculous, outgoing male and the females who look at him with disdain, oh, with the odd flash of Trigger madness with some of the effects. And they just happen to have those powers. This might turn off some fans, but most the gags were decently-done. I wish they would ease up on the sentimental speeches, however.

Ushinawareta and Kokkuri-san 2 and 3

October 21, 2014 4 comments

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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.

twintails1-1

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.

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