The new season! Angel Beats, Kaichou wa Maid Sama, Heroman

Angel Beats 1 gives us a show that’s heavy on the infodump, a bad sign, but it had way more working in its favor.

Ten minutes in and he's already been killed 101 times ...

Otonashi (if that’s his real name) wakes up in some strange afterlife where a schoolgirl is pointing a big gun at another schoolgirl, meanwhile chatting him up and trying to recruit him. Otonashi is, as you would expect, bewildered. He’s even more bewildered when he chats up the other girl and she stabs him, then a guy kills him a hundred more times. Not to mention the fact that he keeps recovering.

It’s good fun. The mystery of what he’s doing there, and the rules of this place, are undercut by the other characters’ nonchalance and eccentricity. Alas, after that the story turns to the infodump, where some things are explained in a confusing way and other questions (why are they in a school? Why do the “other” school members act like that?) are ignored. This is when I started checking my watch.

In the end Otonashi's just as confused as he was at the beginning.

We do learn that they (ClassSSS, or the “to hell with death battlefront,” or “barnacle extinction guard battlefront,” they haven’t decided on a name) are trying to kill Angel, the student president, making this seem like an bizarre metaphor for school life. Though why they plan an operation to steal meal tickets by holding a rock concert is beyond me. Best to roll with it.

There’s plenty of stuff to like. The characters are all types but know it. My favorite bit: at the very beginning Otonoshi decides Yuri (the girl with the gun) is out of her mind and goes down to talk to the other girl, i.e. Otonashi is not a wimpy protagonist, nor a stupid one. There’s a nice comic discussion of reincarnation, and barnacles. In fact, all the conversations, even the infodump ones, felt unforced. This was a good first episode.

Kaichou wa Maid Sama revolves around Misaki, the first female student council president the former all-boys Seika High School ever had.

She’s especially rough on the boys, who all resent her, except for Usui, who doesn’t seem to care either way. But—surprise!–She also works in a maid cafe! And one day, guess who sees her hauling the trash out during a shift …

I never saw it coming!

So she’s in his power, but he doesn’t do anything with his information except visit the cafe, possibly to play with her mind a bit. When three other boys, ones she’s been rough on in school, spot her and plan to use it for blackmail, Usui tells them not to. It goes on like this. They add a twist that Misaki’s family is terribly poor so she needs to work, and keep up with student council duties, and study, so she falls sick. Guess who rescues her? Surprise! Okay, the story is probably going to be awful. If the characters develop a little maybe it won’t be so bad. But I’m not sure I like either Misaki or Usui yet. I’ll look at ep2 and see what I think.

“Now, Jack, here’s what I’m thinking: a poor hardworking boy, um, Joey Jones—I gotta have the alliteration–rebuilds an abandoned robot toy, calls it Heroman, just as the evil alien Skrulls, no, Skruggs are set to invade, and they cause a huge storm that activates the robot. And we got a cheerleader who likes the boy, and a scientist, um, Dr. Denton, who accidently brought the aliens down in the first place! And Lina—that’s the cheerleader—and her father get in a car crash, and Heroman saves them! That’s episode one. Whaddya think, Jack?”

So begins the Stan Lee/Bones collaboration. It’s an interesting mix of anime themes in an American setting. It also starts out very poorly. The first half is all setup, and clumsily done. We see that Joey’s a good kid, put-upon by Lina’s brother and his gang. He works in a diner. We meet Dr. Denton, barely. We meet Joey’s cool friend Psy. The episode just limps along, getting duller and duller. It does get better when the lightning bolt hits and Heroman transforms, because at least something happens. Well, now that we’ve met the characters everyone will settle in and the plotting will get itself together. What I like most is the baleful look Heroman keeps giving Joey, like “Are you just going to stand there?” Don’t know how long my interest will last, though.

But I liked this little cameo:

Stan is everywhere.

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