I’m going to try something here and start each little review with the first second of every episode 1, just to see if I can spot any trends.
We start with Blade and Soul, a series based on a game. That, for me, is usually a bad thing, and I didn’t see much in ep1 that would buck the trend. We start with an attempted killing of a woman we later learn is named Alka. Then a guy tries to scoop up the corpses’ weapons, but he gets smooshed or poofed by an ogre accompanied by two beautiful woman. After that intro bit we shift to the main story of episode one, where Alka is hired to guard local boss Morii as she tries to negotiate with the EVIL Palam empire. There’s lots of blood, fire, death, and backstory to fill things out.
Alka has no emotions, except revenge on Palam, so a lot of people ask her questions and she doesn’t reply much, if at all, making for boring dialogue. The script felt clumsy elsewhere too, like that scene with Morii practicing her knife-throwing that didn’t connect to anything else in the story. It just happened and went away. Add to the fact that they showed a guy’s wet pants after he pissed himself with fear, and I think I can do without this series.
Next: Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou. A boy named Usa enters high school and moves into old but atmospheric house and falls in love with one of the girls (Ritsu) there. The feeling, right now, is not mutual. Same goes for me, but sometimes you have to give a series time to set things up. Episode one is half about Usa meeting his wacky housemates and getting knocked off his pins a lot. The other half is him trying and failing to resist the temptation of stalking Ritsu, ironic because his “roommate” is a pervert (but a cheerful, forthright pervert, so I guess that makes it okay).
These latter scenes drove me up the wall, but again, these are early days. In a few episodes they’ll be one big happy family, or that’s what the OP and ED claim, anyway. Shiro, the pervert next door, will be okay once Usa stops reacting to him. The other new girl, er, I forget her name, a slightly older drunken lady, could be a lot of fun. She was in episode one. I like the look of it, though the creators do seem to want to use the entire spectrum of colors in every scene. If Usa can stop acting like a buffoon I’ll probably keep watching this.
Akuma no Riddle throws a basic story about girls trying to assassinate a girl and then wraps riddles around it. We watch Azuma, your average teenage trained assassin, get transferred to a high school where her victim is. Her small homeroom includes the other assassins, all girls, and their probable victim, Haru. Haru is sweetness and light while the assassins, who know all the others are assassins, spend their time acting snarky, tossing off veiled threats at each other, and testing each other’s reflexes by flinging knives or pocky.
So is this a competition for who gets to kill Haru? If so, why? And why are they waiting for a signal? And why Haru? She is keeping some secrets of her own, but she doesn’t seem dangerous. What’s with that asshole Kaiba-Sensei who keeps texting riddles and saying senseless things with a smirk on his face? Well, whatever the reason for any of this, I guess the point of the plot is that Azuma’s going to fall for Haru. I’m not sure that’s enough to keep me watching. The rest is borderline.
After all this it’s time to get classy and rediscover one of the most unique anime tv series ever put out. Finally, after eight or so years, we get a second season of Mushishi. Some people were worried that times and changes would mean a negative change for this series, but after the superb OVA that came out a few months ago, I, for one, was not worried. And I was right. If there’s anything negative to say about the first episode of Mushishi Zoku Shou, it’s that the animation looks a little crude, but you could say the same thing about Kill la Kill. And what it lacks in animation quality it more than makes up for in its art, ambiance and sensitive stories.
There’s just nothing like it. The OP folksong is replaced by a new one which is just as calm, likewise, the images of nature and things floating are different, yet convey the same mood. The background music works with the nature sounds and the long scenes where people simply walk, or marvel, or gasp quietly as mushi mess with them. The mood is always calm, with a hint of blind menace in the wind. The forces at work in this show are usually so subtle and quiet that no knows they’re there. We see all of this in the first episode, where a sake brewer gets lost in the woods, finds some of his pot empty, and lights over the ridge. It’s also a tale of the man trying to please his father by creating the golden sake the old man had tasted once in the past. It’s also a reintroduction episode; Ginko has a long conversation near the end for those new to the series. The only other difference is that Ginko’s hanging out with a sort-of conference for Mushishi. Not often we see him socialize so much, not that he was a loner before, but his work takes him places alone much of the time. Rather nice to see him crack jokes with his peers. Anyway, those of you who have not watched this series yet, please do so. If you have, you don’t need me to tell you.
We finish this first installment of too many with Selector Infected WIXOSS, where a nice girl named Ruko, worried that her nice grandma (who apparently designs games) is worrying about HER, accepts a gift of a card game called Wixoss, because that’s what the cool girls are doing now. She opens it up and discovers that her player card is a cute little white-haired thing, and is alive. At school the next day she discovers that none of the other girls playing have living cards; in fact, the one that does finds her, instead. “Let’s battle!” And so they do.
It’s not bad, though Ruko is a little dull. Her new friend/rival, Yuzuki, isn’t. She’s thrilled that there’s another “Selector” at their school, and she’s also thrilled that she has a chance to take Roku and her card (Tama) before Roku even knows the rules yet. It sounds devious of her, but she’s so upfront about what she’s doing that I can forgive her. There’s also the show’s dark side. Roku has a nightmare about pillars and a horrible white monster (remember that Tama is also white); meanwhile, Yuzuki, her new best friend, talks about the wish that winning battles can give you, and I start to remember another series about girls and wishes with dark edges … We’ll see how far they want to take the darkness in this show. It looks good, and I’m a sucker for good light shows, as you might know by now. Worth keeping an eye on.