Winter 2014 New Shows #2

First, the show that is supposed to save anime. I was unaware that anime needed saving, but apparently a lot of people out there do, especially those who don’t care for (or haven’t seen) anything after Cowboy Bebop. Well, here is the savior of anime: Space Dandy.

Anime is saved!
Anime is saved!

Okay okay, the first episode isn’t bad, and since it has to introduce the main characters and their current situation, I give episode ones some slack anyway. Dandy is an ass-addled idiot who hunts for new alien life when he’s not ogling girls or causing disturbances in bars. He’s got a robot whose name I forget but has a cute voice, as the more reasonable member of the team, and a cat-thing they hunt but is actually quite normal is introduced as the third main character. There are bad guys tailing him but they get blown up, as do all the main characters at the end, so basically episode one was meant to keep us disoriented. Apart from the lively animation it looks very old school, especially the decor and placards, which could come from the 1930s through the 1980s. It’s all fun to watch, but what are they going to do for episode 2?

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Next we have Witch Craft Works, where Takamiya, your average high school student, finds himself always around Kagari, the school idol. This is mostly a pain to him since he has to endure her crowd of admirers and gets beaten up by the more over-zealous ones. It becomes more of a pain when part of the school tries to crush him and he learns that Kagari’s around to protect him. Good thing she’s a powerful fire-witch. Episode 1 is all setup and doesn’t explain WHY she’s protecting him or why all these witches show up to kill or kidnap him. It’s more interested in setting up the dynamic of the boy being accompanied by the most popular girl in school, her sense of duty to him, and his sense of duty to her duty, if that makes sense. It’s not bad, but routine. Kagari has a running gag going for her of looking really dense, and it’s unclear just much of humanity she understands, since she seems to consider him a female, or hopefully that’s a plot-point. The show’s worth keeping an eye on.

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Noragami also has some promise. Yato is a god who needs followers and money to build a shrine, but he’s on the low-end of the god hierarchy and does jobs like finding lost cats to earn a few five-yen pieces. He’s saved from a bus by a girl named Hiyori, who gets hit herself, becomes sort of half dead (meaning that she’s alive but faints a lot), and wants to go back to being all the way alive. Some of it works for laughs, but the first scene, a prelude of sorts, of a girl about to snap under school pressures, reminds us that the show could have a darker side as well. BTW, what happened to that girl? It’s like the show forgot about her … Anyway, while I found the low-level god Yato to be a little annoying, Hiyori might become an interesting character.

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Buddy Complex has Aoba, yet another average high school joe, who’s suddenly attacked by a giant robot, is rescued by the girl he sits next to, and then gets thrust into the future, where he has another battle to fight, apparently. The opening works quite well (after an early scene where a mecha is sucked into a vortex) in establishing Aoba’s basic, decent, adolescent nature (good in basketball, kind to friends, flummoxed by Hina’s mixed signals) before the weird shit happens and he’s on the run. We don’t know why he’s on the run, only that it’s a guy from the future who stumbles on this time, thinks “While I’m here I’ll kill Aoba,” and proceeds to try. The fact that the would-be killer flies into a jealous rage when he discovers Hina helping out suggests that this issue is extremely complicated and will take some time to sort out. It looks good, and while I’m not a big mecha fan, the first episode kept me interested enough to keep watching.

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Finally for today (and the next few days, I suspect), we have Tonari no Seki-kun, a shortie about a girl who watches her classmate do all sorts of things at his school desk while she makes exclamatory noises and shares her inner monologue with us. That’s not so interesting. What IS is that Seki’s desk projects are elaborate affairs, and apparently the show’s working on a desk-of-the-week format. Episode one was dominoes done with erasers. All well and good, but can they keep this up each week? And if they can’t, will we have to tune in anyway just in case Seki gets a good idea? I’m not crazy about the thought.

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