Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, based on a manga older than that mask, treats us to some old school fisticuffs and shouting.
The theme of episode one, at least, is that naive good is always in danger from insidious evil pretending to be good, or maybe it’s a critique of 19th century nobility. It starts with George Joestar (there’s a good old-school anime name for you!), a nobleman of some sort, “rescued” by some some disgusting man who was simply trying to rob him. A mask is discovered and tossed aside, only to show up on Joestar’s wall later. Meanwhile the recovered George is raising his son, and it’s all fine until Dio shows up. He’s the son of the robber, sent to the Joestar estate out of gratitude, but he has nothing but evil on his mind.
We endure endless scenes of Dio making Jojo’s life miserable in his pursuit of the family inheritance. He’s very good at it. It doesn’t help that Jojo is indeed, in the words of the show a “tosser.” He rushes to do good and gets his ass handed to him every time, even before Dio shows up. He’s easy prey for the more sophisticated Dio. It isn’t until Dio forces a kiss on Jojo’s beloved Erina that Jojo is enraged enough to fight back effectively. Cut to seven years in the future.
A lot of this is fun. The show is often overcome with its own emotions. We’ll get freeze-frames with dramatic writing and sound effects when something huge happens, like that kiss. Jojo is given to dramatic lines of goodness, Dio with equally dramatic sinister thoughts. George, the father, isn’t bad either. Erina supplies the passive maidenly purity. When you add that mask (which doesn’t do anything this episode but shake and float from time to time) it feels like a 19th century gothic novel told through a 20th century manga. It looks good, old school, as I said before, but tinted with nearly psychedelic colors. The music plays along with the melodramatic angle, turning from benign to menacing depending on who’s entered the room. I’m not sure I’ll follow this show, but it has promise. One question: why “Roundabout” for the ED?
Like Jojo, Little Busters is based on an older work that everyone has seem to have read or seen except me. But sometimes it’s good to go into these things blind. On the other hand, I’m curious about what those who have read the visual novel think about this first episode. I found it amusing enough.
We follow Miki and the people who befriended him years ago when he needed emotional support. It’s now several years later and they’ve all in high school and have grown, except for Miki who still looks and sounds like a boy. The Little Busters’ leader, Kyousuke, back from job-hunting, has decided to form Little Busters into a baseball team. The others aren’t sure why and his explanations make no sense, but that’s perfectly normal for this group, who go off doing great heroic and apparently often senseless things for no other reason apart than its fun. A lot of the humor from this first episode come from them doing something odd (like equipping Rin with a headset to help her recruit girls for the team) while wondering why.
The banter in just about every scene has something funny in it. We learn quickly not to take the antics too seriously because deep down the characters obviously don’t. They go along with it because they’re doing it together. Every member has his or her unique personality and take on the situation and they bounce off each other well. Some things don’t work as well; they’ll freeze for a mocking caption, e.g., “Rin has earned the title ‘Godly lack of control,'” which is fine but gets tedious when they stack them too close together. Still, this is an appealing first episode and I’m looking forward to the next one.
Busou Shinki 1 begins with a narrator explaining what Busou Shinki are. A narrator at the opening of a series is a potential sign of danger, like they can’t trust the characters and action to do the explaining for us, or that the series is meant for really young or childish people who need the help. And after we’re told that they are sentient miniature slave dolls, all apparently female, who do their “master’s” bidding, we see a couple of them in mecha combat. Ah! I see. It’s going to be a mecha show except with miniatures! I thought about the implications of that while the unexciting OP played. Do they only fight each other? Can they break those robotic laws? Can they be taken over and used against their masters? Then the episode began in earnest.
We watch as a Busou named Arn gets her master ready for his first day of high school (I didn’t get his name, such is his importance in this series), pulling the covers away, finding his tie, etc, while dealing with annoyance you get if you’re tiny. He leaves and her two Busou comrades, Ames (the tsundere) and Lene (a ditzy blonde, making that two of them) unpack his stuff. By now I’m both appalled and attracted by these combinations of little sister, faithful pet, and sexy mecha-armed girls. Appalled for obvious reasons, but attracted by the idea that I could get little robots to do all my chores for me. I’ve got a problem with cockroaches at the moment. And while they act out their roles and bumble around a bit, they are completely, sickeningly devoted to their master. The bumbling all takes up most of the episode except when a mysterious letter they’ve found blows out the window and they have to suit up to retrieve it, leading to an attack by another Busou, maybe to remind us that there’s going to be fighting going on. And the master gets another Busou at the end and she’s got a nasty gleam in her eye. But mostly this is a cutesy opening episode, and that makes me wonder if they’re going to explore some of the possiblities of this situation or just skim the surface in favor of the numerous fetishes the show indulges in. One more episode for the answer.