More ones: Bakuman, Otome Youkai Zakuro, Yosuga no Sora

I haven’t seen the manga for Bakuman but heard a lot of whining that it was no Death Note. Well, who the hell cares? The first episode of the anime gives us a promising start after some early doldrums.

We meet Moritaka Mashiro, who everyone calls Saiko, a adolescent sleepwalking through school and the responsibilities everyone thrusts upon him—go to school, get good grades, get a job. While they do a nice job at establishing Saiko’s ennui, these scenes do go on too long. We’re waiting for the trigger. That happens when star student Akito discovers a drawing in Saiko’s math notebook and proposes that they team up to create manga.

The stuff of boyish dreams, but it’s not that simple. Saiko is afraid to gamble (a common word in this episode) on such a future because his beloved uncle had tried it and, after one success, failed and abruptly died. Saiko isn’t about to take that chance until Akito invites him out to talk to the girl he’s in love with. In a bizarre and funny scene he becomes energized.

On the surface it seems like a routine series but there are subtle things going on here. Why would Akito, who has a bright future, take such a risk? Meanwhile Saiko takes his uncle’s sad story as a life lesson yet winds up channeling the man’s passions. Heaven knows what they’re going too do with Miho, the girl. Promising start.

I can’t make a decision about Otome Youkai Zakuro after one episode. We get an opening where cute girls in kimonos dispatch a monster, then switches to a supernatural/romantic comedy, before returning to another battle. It’s certainly more lighthearted than I had expected.

We have a world where youkai and humans nervously coexist. The army creates a Ministry of Spirit Affairs and assigns three soldiers to be representatives at a house full of spirits. The male hero, Agemaki, is the type that can create sparklies or roses every time he smiles, but he’s actually terrified of spirits. Naturally he runs into a lot of them. The main girl, feisty Zakuro, who resents the soldiers being there, not to mention a changing of the calendar (I expect we’ll get more on that later), is doubtless going to be his romantic interest, so naturally she despises him. The other spirits and soldiers match up and we get a lot of awkward cultural misunderstanding and, in Agemaki’s case, running away. It goes on a bit but isn’t too bad.

In this sort of show they usually have to have one token battle among the introductions, and we eventually get one. A lightning monster gone amok. So we get to see the girls in action and see Agemaki act bravely and cowardly within seconds of each other. So far the overall theme I get from this show is acceptance, and the patience required while different people learn to coexist. The soldiers all do their best in overcoming their prejudices, and the smarter of the spirits are content to give them time. Pretty good first episode.

Yosuga no Sora 1 is problematic. On one hand it’s a delicate, slow-moving affair that reminded me a little of True Tears. On the other, I may have a little trouble with the subject matter.

A girl whose name I forget, Sora and Haru.

Orphaned twins Haruka and Sora move to their parents’ old home in the sticks. Haru is excited, Sora is assuredly not. They take time showing the kids visiting old haunts, though most of the time it’s Haru who’s interested. And along the way the inevitable gaggle of girls appear, one by one. And of course they not only remember Haru but have the hots for him as well. Since, apart from girl-next-door Nao (I think that’s her name), Haru doesn’t seem to remember any of them I’m starting to get a Kanon vibe. No problem, I liked Kanon.

Haru meets Akira, apparently a Minorin clone.

But there’s something I don’t like under the surface. Grumpy Sora is physically weak and unable to attend school. Haru can, and quickly makes friends and meets more girls who are interested in him. Perhaps because of her isolation Sora is sporting some incestial thoughts toward her brother, and it’s indicated through flashbacks that they had once or twice shared a kiss. This is troublesome enough but at the episode’s “end” she actually comes on to him. Now, there’s no indication that Haru feels the same way; they were much younger back then, so I’m not dropping this show yet. The rest of it is well done. But it’s on probation.

That wasn’t the end. After the closing credits we get a silly cartoon that tells us too much about a maid character AND an insert song, and both were so different from the mood they had established it was like I accidentally turned channels and started watching another show. They had so much time left over? Is this going to happen each week? Yeah, definitely on probation.


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