First off, I didn’t write about Aldnoah Zero 3 but it was a fun episode. It’s always fun when the good guys start bashing on the bad guys after two episodes of abuse. Anyway …
Hanayamata 3 has the show falling into the usual routine. They can’t do club activities when they’re not a club. And to get a club they have to recuit new members, you’ve heard it all before. This particular SC present is a particulary nasty one, too. And we meet the student’s future advisor, who, this being her first episode, refuses. Other than that we get an infodump from the scary yosakoi store owner, who, to no one’s surprise, is a pussycat. What a coincidence, there’s a yosakoi festival coming in a few months! Other than that, Yaya and Hana bond a little, or rather, Yaya sees a glimmer of what her friend sees in this weirdo. As for Hana, as cute as she is, I think having her dialed to 11 in every scene might be wearing me down as much as she did Yaya. But hopefully when the show starts rounding up the stray characters the show will shift its focus.
Space Dandy 2 was such a mess that I can’t bring myself to write about it. Episode 3 was a little better in that the story was more coherent and decently silly. But what really stands out was the art and animation. Some of it reminded me of the work done on the plant planet episode, one of last season’s best. Other parts had the look of moving paintings, and still others were cartoonish. There really wasn’t a reason for this variety; all the styles worked all right with the little scenes but overall didn’t add up to anything. In fact, both episodes felt as though too many different creative minds were tugging at them. Though, as I said, the episode 3 is worth watching just for how it looks.
After Zankyou no Terror 2 I went and looked up the riddle of the sphinx because I had never heard of the second interpretation, that it referred to Oedipus himself. After one minute on Wikipedia hours of thorough searching I didn’t find it, nor did I find any indication that it happened after Oedipus blinded himself. And I got lost in speculation, which is what the police were more or less doing the entire episode–trying to figure out the implications of an ancient riddle rather than doing actual detective work (long briefing session notwithstanding) or letting just any noodle delivery boy into their offices.
But if the show wants to make itself a battle of wits between the two boys and Shibazaki, that’s okay too. We don’t get too many of those types of battles in anime. And the show is doing a very good job of making me wonder just what the boys’ motives are. And what their motives toward Lisa are as well. Why DID Twelve refer to Lisa as an accomplice when they don’t intend to include her in their plans? I don’t think they know, either. And Lisa remains an effective wild card–we see a bit of her miserable home life–a situation any one of us would want to run away from, were it not for the guilt. I’ll probably never learn to like the boys, however. Their experience is too distant from ours for me to feel any sympathy. Thankfully, the show isn’t entirely about them, and they’re telling the story very well.
I shouldn’t have watched Tokyo ESP right after Zankyou no Terror. The art and animation, even in the battle scenes, looks amateurish in comparison. Also, episode two gets very silly, almost like it’s a different show altogether. And then there’s the fanservice, not only of the naked Rinka phasing through floors, but that other naked girl running through the ED until she gets stabbed, about the only dark bit of the entire episode. The backstory is amusing enough if you can ignore the moronic policemen guarding the artwork, the ridiculous villain, and the concept you’d forget seeing something like goldfish in the air, then all of a sudden remember it when reminded. At least they didn’t have any villains spouting lame evil lines, though Black Fist came close. Instead we have Azuma giving lame hero speeches. Well, there was enough weirdness for me to consider watching another episode. Note to self: don’t do it after watching Zankyou no Terror.
Catching up with Sword Art Online 2. Episode two was interesting, basically an introduction to how GGO works in a battle situation, and to Sinon the sniper, as she and a batch of lesser players ambush some monster hunters only to find they have a guy with a Really Big Gun on their side. The rest of the episode is spent with Sinon’s group (depicted as a bunch of losers) as they get blown apart and all cowardly until Sinon, who clearly does not want to be seen with them, at least not in real life, takes over. Everybody on both sides dies but her. She frequently mentions that the RBG guy is “strong enough to smile on the battlefield,” and so admires this that she swears she’s going to kill him. To me such a person is a psychotic (the smiler, not Sinon), so I’m happy she took him out, too. Meanwhile, we get nothing of Kirito or Azuma until the very end, still playing with fairies in that other game. Kind of a jarring juxtaposition.
And in episode 3 it becomes clear that this new season is going to take its time doing things. After that online situation last time which took up most of the episode we get a look at Sinon’s real-life person, Shino, and follow her around as she gets bullied, meets a good friend who’s clearly in love with her, and then has an unpleasant flashback showing us why she can’t look or touch guns in real life. I wonder if those girls who bully her know she’s killed a man? Anyway, it all works pretty well. I mentioned the slow pace this season but I don’t mind it. A few scenes drag a little, but this feels like a more natural pace for the story and I’m like it. But I’m glad Kirito finally put on those goggles. Enough introductions, time for the story.
Akame ga Kill 2 is a traditional one where the hero joins another group of heroes and learns the ropes of heroing, only these are assassins and it’s killing they’re talking about. The big question is whether Tatsumi is capable of killing, apart from anger, and I frankly wasn’t convinced by his positive answer considering he’d been mulling over the same question himself just before. After that scene he’s taken into training (cooking, fishing) and when another job for Night Raid comes in he too eagerly jumps into it and I had the same doubts I had before, unless he was just tired of all the cooking and fishing. I guess that’s what bugs me about this show right now: I just can’t take Tatsui’s seriousness, er, seriously. He’s too keen too soon. But at least they didn’t pull a “rookie screws up on his first try” here. He does his job pretty well.
(This paragraph was written after watching episode 2) I like how Barakamon jumps from one bit to another, almost randomly, so that you don’t know where scenes are going. And the side characters are given moments to display their personal oddities, like the wife who gets her own big speech reflecting on her duties and frustrations, spoken while her husband and son sit and watch, aghast. I like Naru’s obliviousness and her tendency to say whatever’s what on her mind. What I don’t like, so far, is how, in spite of all these nice little tricks, you know pretty much where the show is going. Little moments aside, we got another episode where locals come by and drive Handa crazy, and when he winds up in the hospital, they go and drive him crazy there too. And again the show has a late moment where some random character says something wise that makes Handa think a little, never mind that the character was a ghost this time. Too much more of this and I’ll drop it.
(This paragraph was written after episode 3) Much better. They still have the annoying wise lecture near the end, but it was satisfying to see Handa taking the mochi-catching advice and still fail miserably. But mostly it was better because the show has started to feature other characters. This week it was Tama, one of the middle-school girls, and while I thought her own, highly dramatized story went on a bit long (same technique as last week for the elder’s wife, give her a pedestal and let her declaim), it was fun to watch anyway. What adds to the already solid portrayal of a fujoshi that Tama gives us is her denial that she actually is one. And I’m delighted that the show isn’t entirely about Handa’s woes anymore.
With the rate I’m keeping up with shows I’m a little relieved that Sailor Moon Crystal is biweekly. Again, I’ll leave it to the real fans to compare Ami’s entrance story to the original, because apart from the art and animation changes I don’t notice much of a difference. I don’t remember the pens coming out of a video game, was that there before? One thing I AM reminded of is how competent the Sailor Scouts (or whatever they call them now) are right off the bat, while our heroine turns into a screaming mess at the first sign of threat. What else? Mercury’s transformation sequence has some of the same CG problems as SM’s does, but it’s quicker, and the riplling water effects looked very nice. So, is it Mars next time, or do they wait an episode or two?
I’m dropping Tokyo Ghouls, not because I think it’s a bad show, but I’ve never been big on horror and this show is dripping with it. Episode 2 had Ken get a lecture from Touka while she beats him up, and later he gets a lecture from Nishiki while HE beats him up. It’s satisfying in the latter case that Ken takes hold of his inner ghoulishness and proceeds to beat Nishiki up, but I couldn’t stand the lectures. However, these lectures come from the POV of the characters, i.e., they’re not just generic ghouls but people with personalities, a point made in Yoshimura’s lecture, where he DOESN’T beat Ken up. They’ve also set up Ken’s dilemma (Ghoul? Human?) very well, establishing the threat to his human friend Hideyoshi in the process. Well done. Just not my bag. One more thing: what is it about coffee that ghouls like, and could they extract whatever it is and make non-human food, solving the problem, or do the ghouls just not care? I may never find out.
So, if I’m dropping TG, what am I keeping for now? How about Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-Kun, about as opposite as one can get (no … Tamayura would be the opposite, but anyway …). It’s episode two and time to introduce new characters. We start with Mikoto, handsome, brash, often rude. Happily, after establishing this, the show goes to great lengths to make fun of him. He’s embarrassed by his own bad boy lines, after he says them; he has a desperate need to be needed, so much so that Nozaki asks Sakura to ask Mikoto something so he’ll get to be the wise senpai he sets himself out to be. In fact, Nozaki uses him as a model for his shoujo heroines. Sakura, meanwhile, is dutiful but irritated by all this. Sakura’s irritation is becoming one of her better traits.
Good as Mikoto is, he’s outshined by Seo, Sakura’s friend, who is so oblivious to her surroundings and the feelings of people around her that Nozaki can’t believe it’s not an act. For us she’s a character who’s not afraid of anyone and says whatever she thinks. Sakura’s sort of the same way, but she has to think her opinions. Seo gets to say them. Calm Nozaki is a little overwhelmed by her, another good thing for the series. I don’t know about the contrasting side of her, singing like an angel, though. It seems a little forced. Still, a nice job: two good new characters in one episode.
Three episodes into Free! Eternal Summer, and every time the show threatens to get darker the creators back off. They introduce Sousuke, Rin’s best friend from way back, an excellent swimmer and an all-around decent fellow, only he carries a grudge against Haru for “making” Rin swim on their team last year. The confrontation they have at the vending machines feels like it’s from another, more intense sports anime, and even after they race he still has that attitude toward Haru, but to no one else. Meanwhile, Haru does some glaring of his own, but I don’t know what to make of it. Neither does the show, apparently, as it’s pretty much dropped for other, sillier plotlines, like a relay to open Goro’s pool, and the mistaken belief that Rei is considering rejoining the track team, leading to a few dull spying scenes. And while that business doubles back to Sousuke and Rin, the former doesn’t seem to care much anymore. So, is this show going to go back to Sousuke’s grudge or is it going to chase butterflies for the entire season?
Now that I’ve gone through all the shows I might watch, I must decide which ones to watch next. Since so many episode twos have come out while I was dealing with episode ones I have a good supply. So I’ll pick the shows I really want to watch first. That means Aldnoah Zero.
And it gets right down to business. Earth forces confidently deploy to counter the invading Vers–and get beaten up. There’s a lot of this, but unlike Tokyo ESP, which I watched earlier today, it didn’t become tedious, even when the Vers dukes rattled off a smug line before effortlessly destroying another plane, or mecha. That’s because there was plenty of other stuff going on. We watched this battle from many angles. Maybe too many. While the show is doing a good job at juggling all these characters without making it confusing, I think they have too many in the air at once. It’s another good episode but busy as hell.
And some of these characters are more interesting than others. Asseylum not being not-dead wasn’t a big surprise (c’mon!), but apart from being a plot chess-piece what else is there to her? Nao would be a little more interesting if we could get a handle on him. He calmly does this and that, maybe getting some gumption at the end after his friend is killed, but usually doing what he’s told. Marito I like because he knows how suicidal this all is but goes in anyway, hands shaking. The Vers counts are effective villains but too smug. Slaine has the biggest moral issues on his mind, and in terms of character choices his inability to kill humans was the strongest, though you know Krillram or Cruthea are going to wail on him for that. Raylet is going to have some loyalty issues of her own soon. Yeah, they DID pack a lot in this episode!
Next: Hanayamata, to see if the spell it cast on me last week would hold. Yeah, pretty much, though the focus shifted a bit.
Like Aldnoah, the show wastes no time setting up the episode. Naru is spending time with Hana now, and Yaya feels a little jealous. Unlike Aldnoah, we pretty much know what’s going to happen: Naru and Yaya will have a fight and then make up. Not much there, really, and it does feel like they stretched it out a bit long, but that might just be me. There’s a nice little scene where Hana visits Naru’s house (driving poor Yaya nuts) and we learn a little about this strange Jersey Girl. She was into freerunning (which I had to look up, and wonder what the difference between it and parkour), but wanted something to do with a group because she felt lonely. Thus the two girls find something in common.
Then the fight comes, not much of a fight, really, but a demonstration of how selfish and petty Yaya can be. Naru’s depended on her since middle school. This strange blonde isn’t going to take her away! But Yaya is perceptive enough to realize this on her own, and with Hana’s unsubtle prodding, she later makes up with Naru. Again, not a very dramatic scene, but sweet nevertheless. Throughout, Yaya’s betrayed feelings came out naturally, as did Naru’s confused reactions. As for Hana, she exuberantly drives the action forward again, even though she doesn’t quite understand it, and I think it’s great. There might come an episode where I want her to lighten up, but not yet. She’s having too much fun.
Kudos to Yukinari in Glasslip for getting the heartbreak ball rolling. Prompted by Touka to say what’s on his mind, he straightens his sore backbone and confesses to her. The trouble is, Touka wanted him to confess to Yana, and so the fun begins. Since she was too flustered to shoot him down, after all, she’s on Yana’s side, we have plenty of chances for more miscommunication later as Yukinara wonders what her response will be. Poor sap. Yana, naturally, overhears the confession–you could see that coming a mile away as she was making her way down the road, and normally I would grind my teeth at such a coincidence, but she has a spine, too, and she keeps what she’s feeling hidden.
Meanwhile, there’s some supernatural stuff going on as Kakeru more or less proves he’s not the weirdo he seems to be, prompting Touka into a vision of the future, or a “fragment.” But right now it’s just voices and a repeated scene of train tracks (and a train… not good), and he doesn’t know what’s going on with it, either. But it’s something that’s bringing them together, though Kakeru hasn’t mentioned anything about romantic interest in her, which is interesting in itself. What if he just wants to meet a kindred soul and not a girlfriend? The episode as a whole wandered agreeably from here to there with no hurry, and I’m happy to report that there were no chickens, except in the OP.
Zankyou no Terror (no, zankYOU!) has an effective first episode that leaves us with a bunch of questions.
We start in snowy somewhere, a nuclear plant of some sort, which is raided by two people in nuclear suits, who escape with only one explosion and no loss of blood anywhere, which is pretty good work. Then it’s six months later in Tokyo and hot as hell, and two high school boys who call themselves Nine (boyish) and Twelve (tall and austere) transfer in under different names and try not to call attention to themselves. We wonder who the other numbers are, and later, I wondered why they bothered to transfer into school in the first place. Later they set up an elaborate series of bombs and set them off, causing the building they targeted to blow up WTC style … except there’s a new classmate, Lisa, caught in there. They give her the chance of either dying or becoming an accomplice. Assholes.
Every moment in the episode looks good and well thought-out. It looks great, and the show flexes its animation muscles early when it follows the snowmobile around. What’s more, they split the time around between the boys, Lisa, and two detective types who spot a warning on Youtube. So we don’t really know what’s happening until the bombs go off … well, we can sort of guess. The show doesn’t waste time explaining things. We know that boys were an in institution and that something bad happened there, but nothing more than that. Lisa is not “one of them” but has emotional issues to deal with. Why did they save her? Twelve seems sympathetic to her but would have happily left her to die if she hadn’t followed directions. And why is that one guy an ex-detective? Unlike some shows, all these mysteries are set up subtly but clearly. Very interesting start. We’ll see how it pans out.
Next we have Ai Mai Mi – Mousou Catastrophie, a sequel to a show I don’t remember at all. And we get a lot of weird fantasy stuff, with manga stuff thrown in. I can’t make head or tail of this thing. Since it’s only three minutes long I suppose it doesn’t matter. Let’s move on.
Next it’s Rokujouma no Shinryakusha, a show tries too hard to be funny. We meet Koutarou, a boy entering high school who has moved into a place of his own to take it easy on his busy dad. Fifty bucks a month! Perfect! But his friend Makkenji tells him that it’s haunted. He sleeps through one ghost attack, but at work the next day falls through the earth’s crust and meets some cosmic girl who’s been waiting for him, the he wakes up. The next day the ghost confronts him over the apartment, which she claims is hers.
She is followed by a magical girl or cosplayer, a girl from underground who wants to take over the earth, a princess of a galactic empire, and then the landlady, who’s pissed about the mess they’re making. We’re supposed to react to this pile-on of weird females, but, as I said, they try too hard. The underground scene and the hints of people in the shadows and trees kept me interested for a while, but after the fighting began I kept hoping the next girl would show up soon because I was bored by the one being ridiculous on screen now. Also, it wasn’t terribly funny. I’ll give it another episode to see if things can settle down.
Tokyo ESP looks great, has some nice action bits in it, and it irritated the hell out of me.
Modern-day Tokyo, and suddenly everyone looks up and there’s a big rock floating in the sky, actually, the Parliment building. The MPs they haven’t killed already are being held hostage by a group of espers, a particularly nasty group, too, as they have no compunction at killing anyone who tries to stop them and anyone who isn’t trying to stop them. There are bad guys on the floating rock and more on the ground, wreaking havoc and distracting emergency and military forces until they’re at their wit’s end. Two members of an esper dispatch unit manage to fight one esper to a standstill, so I guess they’ll be recurring characters, and then there are some good espers who stop blending in and start kicking esper butt on their own.
The trouble is that the bad espers are such poor chariactures of anime villains that they sucked any sort of sympathy out of the situation and replaced it with annoyance and anger. The head bad guy, the one with the scar, starts off with a speech about how puny humans can’t see the truth so they must be enslaved, and right there the warning signs went off in my head. Of course, even bad bosses with bad lines seem to have minions, and their lines are even worse. “Strike! Mankind out!” I think hits a new low at bad villain jokes. Meanwhile, the humans that aren’t in special forces and getting killed kept saying “If only White Girl was here!” And at the end, when White Girl and her friends do indeed show up, it’s a relief. Not only because the news has all been bad before then, but because now at least some of the bad espers will shut up. I’m going to watch another episode, if only because the series does look great, but I think it’s tipped its hand early.
Finally, I think, we have Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance. I think after the bad taste of those villains got out of my mouth it was a relief to see a poorly-animated generic show about witch-schools, magical powers, a harem, and lots of cries of “hentai!”
Well, not a relief, as I don’t think I’m going to watch this. We have Kamito entering an all girl’s magic school, where they all have pseudo-western names like Claire Rouge, or Greyworth, or Ashbell. Naturally, it starts with a Claire bathing and Kamito accidentally seeing her, magic attacks, and things move predictably along from there. The next important girl we meet is Ellis, a tsundere, (hell, every girl at the school who isn’t afraid of him is), who resents his being at the school and threatens to turn him into various kinds of food, which made me like her. And the Headmaster, Greyworth, is an evil witch who’s behind all this. None of it is very new or interesting, but it’s all agreeably dumb. I watch it again, but I won’t write about it.
I think I’m finished.
Let’s turn to Hanayamata, the story of shy middle-schooler Naru, average at everything, envious at her best friend Yaya’s ability to play and write music, not necessarily because they are admirable qualities, though they are, but that Yaya actually gets up and tries to do it. Naru is too afraid to try anything and so sticks to reading fairy tales. Then while a spring festival is blasting away nearby, she encounters a fairy who asks her to dance. Naru dances a little, until her low threshold for excitement is reached and she runs off. The next day, that same fairy, really an American from New Jersey named Hannah Fountainstead or something, transfers into Naru’s school and begins to make a pest of herself to Naru or to anyone else who would like to learn yosakoi dancing.
I absolutely loved the first episode. For me it cast a spell from the point in the OP where the girls line up and dance up through the end, and I don’t know why. Probably it’s a combination of things. Maybe it’s the cute girls. Maybe it’s the odd supernatural touches it throws in. Hannah leaps from impossibly high places with grace; in the first scene there’s no reason to believe she’s not the fairy Naru thought she was, and her odd face with the huge eyes and smile also makes you wonder where she really comes from, I mean, come on, New Jersey?! It also looks lovely, though maybe they threw in TOO many fireworks and sakura blossoms in the first scene … well, it worked to cast a spell. Maybe the thought of Naru, who claims to be empty, discovering something she loves and breaking out of her shell appeals to me. Maybe not the best show of the season, but early on it’s my favorite.
Momo Kyun Sword, on the other hand … Well, I suppose I suppose I could get some history out of it. Our heroine, Momoko, born out of a peach and with a dog, monkey, and pheasant to pal around with, learn that the dreaded oni are literally popping up all over japan to get peach fragments, this show’s equivalent of moon crystals. Celestial maidens show up looking for the peach fragments themselves, for their protection, don’t you know, and plucky but brainless Momoko mistakes them for oni. Hey, she’s never actually seen one, right?
Anyway, the real oni come and all the girls unite, and get stomped by the oni boss, so Momoko invokes a spell that … Oh, the hell with it. You get the idea. A girl adventurer with really big breasts and a tendency toward clothing malfunctions (twice this episode) has adventures with some other scantily-clad girls. It’s told rather lazily, like they figure they don’t have to try as hard since we already know the legend, right? Same for the animation and art. And while I did rather like Momoko’s stupid but brave demeanor, not enough to watch episode two.
Majimoji Rurumo, in spite of the cute witch, did very little for me. We have your average high school pervert Shibaki who accidentally conjures up a pair of panties and thus forms a contract with a witch named Rurumo, meaning he’ll die in two days. Ridiculous stuff happens after that and he only gets half killed. Jump to later and Ruruo returns with for Shibaki to use, but when he uses them all, he will die.
Easy, just don’t use the tickets, right? But apparently Rurumo won’t get to be a full witch until he does so, another contract that makes as little sense as the first one, where it was nearly broken by Rurumo going to prison but Shibaki refusing, and simply returning the panties, which shouldn’t reduce his sentence but did, or something. I swear, if they’re going to mess around with the basic contracts in episode one, imagine what will happen when the plot gets serious (as you know it will when the tickets run low), and they have to find loopholes. It’s a silly, ecchi show, so I shouldn’t worry about this so much, but the comedy wasn’t much good either. Most of it was based on Shibaki’s perviness or Rurumo’s deadpan speaking, both of which we have plenty of elsewhere. I might watch more, but I probably won’t.
I’m not the target audience for Love Stage!!, but it really didn’t matter. Izumi, a girlish boy born into a family of entertainers, wants nothing to do with the industry but instead wants to draw manga, though he has no talent for it. Then his family is asked to reprise an old commercial they all starred in, ten years later, and he wants nothing to do with it, even if it means he’ll costar with the super-hot actor and idol Ryouma.
That the two will wind up a couple is a given, taken the OP, so the question is when and how, and the show’s success will depend on that. Episode one is a good start. All the characters we meet have their own quirks, and they’re already getting good comic bits having them work off of Izumi and his seemingly endless insecurities and frustrations, most of which are understandable given his past and his otaku interests. In one respect it’s like Hanayamata: I suspect the show will be about Izumi breaking out of his shell as much as it is about the romance, well, maybe not THAT much. And his casting about, looking for something to love, is very appealing. Don’t know if it’s enough for me to keep watching, but don’t let me stop you.
I dropped the first season of Yama no Susume after a couple of episodes, but the positive reaction to it made me decide to look at the new season. In it, Aoi and her friends are still planning to go up a mountain somewhere, maybe Mount Fuji, the way they’re talking. It made me wonder how far Aoi overcame her fears in the first season. All they do this time is do cute things and try out camping in Hinata’s backyard, using a new tent.
I’m still not won over, though it was more fun than I remembered. I liked Aoi’s weird dreams which start and end the episode. I learned about making curry, camping-style (Plenty of other shows have shown this, but not in such detail), which is nice if I plan to go camping. It’s all cute and positive, but I didn’t really get into it, not as a show to blog every week, that is. I might include it in my list of shows not to blog about.