Work kept me away from viewing for two days just when the new season is coming down like an avalanche. Here’s a whole bunch of new show thoughts for you, in the order that I viewed them. First, Sengoku Collection is the closest I’ve come this season to dropping a show after one episode. (As I learned, there would be more)
We got Oba Nobunaga, one of those warring states guys, transported to the here and now, only she’s actually a pink-haired girl. She lands on top of a convenience store schmoe who becomes her retainer against his well\. It leads to lots of fish out of water scenes and Oba Nobunaga taking her clothes off. I hate fish out of water scenes, couldn’t care less about naked anime girls, and I don’t know enough history to get all the inevitable historical references they’re going to throw at us, for next week it’s going to be another historical figure, transformed into a blonde. If that wasn’t enough the episode was dull, with bad pacing, uninspired dialogue, and it’s drawn badly, too. I generally don’t drop a show so soon unless I find it offensive or mind-blowingly stupid, and this one isn’t quite bad enough. One more episode.
Yurumates 3D zips by so fast it was over before I was ready. A girl goes to live in Tokyo and moves into an apartment building full of fellow cram-school people who immediately invite themselves in and drink themselves into a stupor. We don’t even get to meet any of them before the show ends. What was the main character’s name again? Okay, not a lot you can do in three minutes. We’ll see how it pans out …
Natsuiro Kiskeki 1 had me scratching my head until I figured out, I think, what the story is going to be about. Four girls once made a wish on a big rock and it came true in a small way. Now, older and wiser (middle school) one of the girls (Saki the blonde) gets all grumpy and quarrels with Natsumi (brown/orange hair) and quits the tennis club. Lots of “you’re no longer my friend” bits while the other two (Yuka the green-haired Saten clone and Run the purple monotone girl) watch with some worry. Turns out Saki’s family is moving away, thus putting her in this distancing funk. Naturally it’s big rock time again, though they can’t agree on what to wish for, until Run blurts out an idea … and they’re flying? I had thought I knew where all this was heading until that moment. When they return to earth I figured it out. It’s not that the rock grants wishes, though it does; it’s that the rock is a potential wish-granter and now they must decide on what to wish for. Since they all must agree on the wishes the four often willful girls must find common ground. Interesting premise, though I’m not sold on the girls yet.
I think someone had the idea to take all the current cute trends in anime and distill them into what they’re calling Acchi Nochi. In episode one we meet five cute high school students who go through their normal school day (with their cute teacher), doing cute things, and then going to an arcade where they continue to act cute. The cutest character is Tsumiki, sort of a cross between Konata (physically, apart from the sprouting cat ears … cute) and Tooru (without the violent undertones … no, scratch that), who is adorably, cutely in love with Io, who handles the cute guy with glasses responsibilities. We also get a handsome boy and two other girls who are in charge of further cute fetishes. Nothing much happens at all, and the things that do happen are cute. Even the teacher slipping on a banana peel. In short, it would be very easy to hate this show. But I didn’t. Though the show is leisurely, each little scene is milked for cuteness potential and then quickly abandoned. Few wasted moments. That is to say, I wasn’t bored by it. It all just happens, with no pressure or forced action at all. If they can keep that up (and find more high school situations–they went through several in this episode) I think I might actually enjoy watching this every week.
Accel World has a routine and somewhat clumsy opening episode. Short, blobby high school boy Haru, bullied at school, living only for immersive games, is given some software by the school’s beauty, Princess Snow Black (who looks like Mio with butterfly wings), I think, which accelerates his responses, so giving him the opportunity to turn the tables on his bulliers. Interesting that PSB’s advice is to take the blow and let the security cameras film it rather than fighting back, and since she takes some hurt herself this is more than an observer shouting advice to the one about actually getting hurt. What I also liked was Haru’s attitude to his school situation. He’s not only bullied, but he’s pitied by his friends, and that gives him a rage he instinctively knows is counterproductive but can’t help feeling anyway, which in turn causes him to act badly toward people trying to be kind to him, out of pity or not. But I don’t like the accel gimmick very much. Possibly how Haru chooses to use it will make it worthwhile. And I especially didn’t like the end, where Haru innocently forgets not to link in (you KNEW he would forget sooner or later, it was a question of when. Not a good set-up by the creators) and winds up in a post-apocalyptic fighting world. I hope the whole thing isn’t just an excuse to give us battles. The show has potential for more than that.
Upotte!! is about girls who are actually weapons, and a new, handsome teacher who doesn’t know this at first. What it means is that we get some actually interesting lessons about types of assault rifles, and we get a lot of metaphors mixing guns and adolescent sexuality together. The main girl, Funko, meets the teacher and can’t stop fantasizing about his hands making her go off, until he makes a remark about the thong she’s wearing (she can’t help it if she has a skeleton stock, dammit!), a gun appears in her hand (wait, I thought she WAS the gun) and he winds up in the hospital. Twice. I don’t think I have to say anything further, apart from I’m not going to watch it again.
When the original Saki aired I nearly dropped it a few times because I couldn’t understand the game, or the characters. Watching Saki -Episodes of Side-A I learned that this was only part of a larger adolescent-girls-playing-mahjong universe, and that what we have here is a spinoff with it’s own set of characters that have some relationship to the originals, especially Nodoka. In other words, more babbling girls playing a highly-confusing game. We start with a flashback where some middle-school girls head to a mahjong beginners club, then the advisor leaves, girls drift off to different schools, time passes, and three of them decide to re-form the club. Seeing Nodoka, not to mention StOS characters in the credits, might resonate for some viewers, but I was too busy thinking “who was that again?” The only one I remember vividly was the taco-eating girl, and I don’t remember her name. This episode exhausted me trying to kee up. I’ll leave it for others to review.
Finally, I watched Nazo no Kanojo X, where I am presented with a fundamental problem.
Our hero, Akira, yet another high school boy, meets Urabe, a weird transfer student. Akira, due to some childhood thing, has a up-to-now unacknowledged kink, which makes him taste some of Urabe’s drool she left on her desk. It’s sweet. After some vivid dreams he comes down with a fever. Urabe visits, offers him more of her spit, and he recovers. Thus a beautiful friendship is born. By the end Akira is confessing to Urabe and she accepts. But it’s not just the spit that makes this more than a high school romance.
Urabe is the oddest girlfriend since Senjougahara. When not bursting out laughing at nothing on her first day (and I won’t tell you what the reason is) and sleeping at her desk the rest of the time, to the scissors she keeps under her skirt (Unlike Senjougahara, she apparently only has the one. Strangely, it’s the only moment of fanservice in a show bordering on eroticism), to her usually hidden eyes, even her calm, nearly-whispering voice (by Ayako Yoshitani, an actress who is apparently new to voice acting work) is different from most other girls in anime. She’s not the only thing about this show that’s different. While Akira is a relatively normal anime boy, apart from his kink, his dreams employ a completely different art style from the relatively cartoonish look of everyday life. It’s like we’re plunked into a completely different series. It’s all very interesting, apart from the fundamental problem.
I find the whole drool thing disgusting. Every time Urabe pulls her finger out of her mouth I go “eew” and want to turn away. The show explained well how Akira doesn’t mind it, and I don’t think there’s a “normal” reaction to other people’s spit, but I’m going to have a hard time watching this series if I have trouble watching the characters sharing one of their special moments. For now I’m going to suck it up and keep watching; this show has way too much going on for me to drop it because it grosses me out sometimes.
All right. I think I’m sort of caught up now.