New shows: Joshiraku and Kokoro look good, SAO maybe, Dakara Boku wa … ahem

She says this several times. No one listens to her.

Joshiraku sets up what it intends to do quickly. It’s five girls sitting around backstage at a theatre talking about nothing much. A topic is presented and they twist and digress until you nearly forget what they were talking about. They start with what the hell are they doing in an anime. Should they act natural? What IS acting natural? Which eventually leads to the concept of dressing casually. This topic is stretched, twisted, mashed and stomped on so that at the end the redhead (Mari) is naked behind a signboard, after a disclaimer that this is not to increase audience share. You get the idea. Other topics include types of lolis, puns on the word tissue, dogs and cats, and mountains and sea. This show will fail if the conversations aren’t entertaining, but in episode one they’re fast and clever, as you would expect from a work from Koji “I’m in despair!” Kumeta. Though like in that other show, just as exhausting. It’s kind of weird to have a conversation-heavy show like this which is NOT directed by Shinbo/SHAFT, but they’re busy enough. Let’s see if StarChild can carry it through.

Dakara Boku wa, H ga Dekinai has a main character who thinks only of sex (or ERO, as he says), a redheaded grim reaper who actually gets naked when she’s not pounding the shit out of him for being a pervert, and … well, do you need to know more? I will say in its defense that Ryousuke is a gentleman among perverts. He treats women well because they’re the source of all his lusts and must therefore be treated with respect. And his “perversions” are little more than what your average high school male has, only he feels it’s dishonest not to voice them. As for the episode itself, it was going along fine until Lisara the redhead shows up. Then we get lots of confusing power-transfer talk and an attack from a blob thing, which made even less sense, but at least there was a battle involved–a battle where she winds up naked. Still Ryousuke’s subsequent “hooray for ero!” speech was somehow uplifting. But not enough to rescue this show.

Going into Sword Art Online I wasn’t crazy about the premise, and I’m still not, but the first episode is laid out so simply and clearly that I have hopes for it, if they go beyond the world we see. Everyone logs into a VR MMORPG called Aincrad on its inaugural day, including a guy named Kirito, a beta player delighted to be back. He is befriended by a newbie named Klein. While he shows Klein the basics we also get a brief intro to how the game works. Then Klein decides to log off to eat … but there’s no log off button. His reaction reminded me of when I first tried to shut down Gnome 3, but I digress. From here the episode collapses into an infodump but a rather decent one. Reach the top level to escape, if you die, you die for real, etc, we kind of figured that, but the show does a pretty good job of showing the player’s shock and panic. Stripping them of their avatars and showing their actual bodies was a nice touch. I hope the show goes outside the VR and shows the real world and what’s being done to help these player-victims, or maybe someone in the game will come up with a hack. If that doesn’t happen and it’s only the adventures of Kirito, I’ll probably lose interest quickly.

And we’re just getting started.

Kokoro Connect has maybe the best opening episode so far. Five people in a high school Cultural Studies club start switching bodies. First, the two blondes, Aoki and Yui, but that’s an anecdote the two confused kids admit to the others, then in real time to Taichi and Azu-nyan Lori. Okay, its premise, like SOA, isn’t much, but the episode is put together amazingly well. We learn a lot about the characters even before the story kicks in with small precise scenes, so by the time Taichi and Lori switch we already have a good idea of what they’re like. After that there’s great fun to be had convincing the grumpy and naturally suspicious Inaban, the only one who hasn’t switched. Not to mention the voice actors essentially playing each other’s roles. Yes, we get a “Hey, I got boobs!” moment, but it’s brief and leads to an unexpected comic moment involving a lascivious side character. By the end I wanted more, not just of the story but the characters as well. Very promising.

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