New Spring 2014 #6, and the last

Stars.  Appropriate.
Stars. Appropriate.

Sidonia no Kishi has Tanikaze Nagate, futuristic NEET who runs out of food, goes up to scrounge some, gets caught, is discovered to be the grandson of someone important, next thing you know he’s piloting a mecha in deep space. Sounds like a lot of other series, but everything else is completely different. First, the people of this “world” (more like an asteroid, really) are almost freakishly different. There seem to be some basic physical types, male, female, and both/neither (though the latter look and sound female to me), and I assume they go off to be recycled when it’s time to die. We get so see people protesting the military, which tells you a lot about the society right there, not least that they allow protests to happen. The asteroid they live on has industrial buildings a thousand years old, they say; they reminded me of pictures of modern ruins you find online. It’s a rich backdrop or a good SF story,

Boys, girls, and in-between, or neither.
Boys, girls, and in-between, or neither.

Plus, the show itself has a distinct look. The characters have basic human traits, such as curiosity and jealousy, but it’s often hard to read because they all look of one type or another. And I haven’t even mentioned the character who wears a mask. This could be a problem. It took me a while to realize that the short-haired character in this scene isn’t the same as the one last scene. On the other hand, the world has a gritty, real feel to it, maybe too much so. Nagate’s short-lived escape has moments that had me wincing.

Or yakitori, take your pick.
Or yakitori, take your pick.

One more quibble: I can’t believe Nagate would know so little about what the surface is like. He’s quite young. Don’t tell me he had never heard of this new gender. Also, he adjusts to his new surroundings too quickly. And the evil aliens are just more monsters with tentacles. They put more thought in the world than in the evil invaders. But if the world continues to be this interesting, I don’t mind a bit.

A comfy cottage that tells you what this show's probably going to be like.
A comfy cottage that tells you what this show’s probably going to be like.

I almost missed this one: Escha & Logy no Atelier: Tasogare no Sora no Renkinjutsushi, which I’ll call Atelier. About a nice young alchemist named Escha, beginning work at the local rural magic office and meeting the city slicker Logix who’s just transferred in and looks down his nose at these peasants, especially when he learns that local alchemical jobs include fixing a windmill. There’s dangers and ruins around, so I guess that’s where the show will go with this.

atelier1-1

It all reminds me of Shining Hearts. The fairy tale village is full of happy villagers (except the harvests haven’t been very good recently. Hmm…) who all know each other. All the women wear aprons and the men are muscular and jolly. There’s no bread in this show, but it looks like they’re going to replace them with apples, which are everywhere. I was a little unkind to Logix in the paragraph above; he is a city slicker of sorts but he’s not disdainful of the happy village, but taken aback with how they do things. Once he gets a tour of the place he’s more than happy to repair windmills. There’s no story yet, so the first episode is slow-paced and peaceful. No masterpiece, but like Shining Bread Hearts, it’s a pleasant, slightly dull half hour. I might keep an eye on it, but I won’t write about it.

Gears, showing time passing, or stopping, or something.  Ask Shinbou.
Gears, showing time passing, or stopping, or something. Ask Shinbou.

Mekaku City Actors … What? Shaft is doing two shows at once? Amazing! I’m a huge Shaft fan, so I’ll probably watch this no matter what. Good thing for the show, because the story going on beneath the usual style looks pretty mundane. We have a NEET named Shintaro doing whatever NEETs do while this avatar girl, too smart for her own good, named Ene, bugs him to buy things he doesn’t need. His keyboard breaks, forcing him outside for the first time in two years, and wouldn’t you know it, terrorists or robbers take him and a bunch of other customers hostage. You see, NEETs? This is what happens to you if you go outside. But a couple guys in hoodies, who are also prisoners, take interest in him, and allows him the opportunity to do something.

mekakucity1-1

On the down side, the good guys are almost all young people in hoodies. This usually strikes me as an attempt to be cool, and usually fails. The story of a hapless hero who joins a group of rebels or vigilantes and gain confidence is as old as the hills in anime. Also, while it appears (if you peer through all the quick cuts and abstract shapes) that Shintaro did manage to save the day, it was Ene who did most of the work. He just plugged something in. On the other hand, I rather like Ene and Shintaro’s banter. They’re like a quibbling couple. I wonder if she was sent to Shintaro to give him someone to interact with while he’s shut away, which suggests a larger plan for him … Also, this show is pure, undiluted Shaft–those quick cuts, shapes, wide angle shots, even two head tilts in the opening section alone! The style nearly overwhelms the story, which, as I’ve suggested, is probably a good thing.

Here's what you're about to watch.
Here’s what you’re about to watch.

Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san is about Inugami and Nekoyama, which I guess you could figure out by the title. Inugami is a cat-lover and Nekoyama is a dog-lover, and their mutual friend and straight-man Aki introduces them. Five minutes of yuri jokes with animal overtones. And it’s actually not bad.

The world trembles.
The world trembles.

Yeah, not all the jokes are good, but many of them are. It feels a bit like Teekyuu (THE GREATEST SHOW EVER!) except not as frantic or surreal. The voice actors for all three girls do a terrific job with episode one. They’re clearly having a blast with the material. When the episode finished I was disappointed. “That’s it? Aww …” I didn’t know it was a short show. But if it was a half hour they might wear me out, so it’s just as well. One question: if Inugami is a cat-lover, why does she have three dogs in the house?

Apart from some children’s shows and sequels to shows I didn’t watch, that’s about it. The RC guide lists one more, called M3, but it doesn’t seem to be out yet. Now I have to decide what I will watch. I have one series carrying over: Nisekoi. Among the new shows, there are four must-watch: Mushishi, Ping Pong, Sidonia, and Kekaku City, and a boatload of shows I just don’t know about, including Sword Eater Not, which I watched on a whim and rather liked without having watched much of the original. I’ll write about the must-watches and let the others sort themselves out.

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