2014 Summer Shows #2

Some nice PA Works scenery to start us off.
Some nice PA Works scenery to start us off.

The latest from PA Works, the studio that never does a bad show, is Glasslip. It’s hard to explain what the story is all about. We have a girl named Touko, who has some sort of vision or hallucination while enjoying their town’s summer festival. Meanwhile, a boy we later learn is named Kakeru passes by moodily. Later they meet while Touko is sketching the school chickens. Kakeru, through lines that make him out to be creepy, convinces her that they might be happier and safer if they’re caged, or brought in, so we get a lot of scenes of Touko’s close friends messing with chickens in their houses. Then the rest of the gang meet Kakeru, who says a lot more cryptic things.

Some dramatic standing up, but we don't know the subtext yet.
Some dramatic standing up, but we don’t know the subtext yet.

This is often how PA Works, er, works, tossing in quick, witty little scenes that reflect on the issue at hand in tiny ways, even down to what the chickens glance at. When done well (Hanasaku Iroha), the little bits accumulate into amazing artifacts. There’s plenty of that here, but there’s also lots of confusion. Sure, we’re given the names of all the characters in the intro, but that’s not my favorite way to do it. I can never remember. Fortunately the show tells us a lot just through character interaction, even if we’re not sure who the characters are yet. Kakeru, whom Touko is obviously smitten with, comes off as creepy, not quite right in the head. We’ll have to see if they can take this attitude off of him, because right now he’s not trustworthy. That other boy has good reason to be suspicious of him, apart from the jealousy. I’m not too worried. It looks great, and I like the glass-blowing metaphor they’re working on. In fact, in this episode they do a lot of surreal things with both that and the fireworks. They could do without the chickens, however, unless they’re referring back to True Tears … Hmm, the more I think about it …

Locodol starts by getting us to watch TV.
Locodol starts by getting us to watch TV.

Next we have Futsuu no Joshikousei ga Locodol Yattemita, which I’m going to cal Locodol from here on out, a silly show about a girl named Nana who becomes an idol sort of against her wishes, thanks to getting conned by her uncle, who works for the civil service and is trying to drum up interest in their boring little town. Nana thinks she’s doing a couple hours of part-time work in order to pay for a swimsuit, and the next thing she knows she’s wearing that suit on stage in front of DOZENS of locals at a pool event. Luckily, she’s helped by a more accomplished local idol named Yukari, and so a great team is born!

Pool opening ceremonies have never been this nerve-wracking before.
Pool opening ceremonies have never been this nerve-wracking before.

Well, I’ve seen worse. It’s very straightforward, and too obvious. Every little thing they set up early comes up again later on, like that town song. It’s more of a comedy than other idol shows, but I didn’t think many of the jokes were funny, though the scheming uncle had his moments. Also, they have to do the usual episode one stage-setting, in this case spending a lot of time with pre-show jitter scenes and screwups onstage when the show begins. Maybe now that they’ve gotten that out of the way they’ll explore locodol life a little more, and maybe the jokes will be better. The idea of a comedy featuring local idols has potential.

The starscape opening was an excellent way to reintroduce this series.
The starscape opening was an excellent way to reintroduce this series.

I watched the original Sailor Moon back in the 90s, back in the DIC days. Apart from Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain, it was the only syndicated animated show worth watching. And while those other two excellent shows were directed at adults as much as children, and were often drowning in irony, all Sailor Moon wanted to do was tell us a story. I appreciated that. So I’m as curious as many a fanboy or girl about how this new version, Sailor Moon Crystal, would turn out.

Some things never change.
Some things never change.

Now, when I first watched I started midway through and doubled back to the beginning. I wonder if I would have watched the whole thing if I had seen Usagi as the klutz she started as. And that’s what we get this time, Usagi at her most annoying. I must be patient. The episode works pretty much like the original did, introduce Usagi, family, friends, and Luna. They look pretty much the same. In fact, the characters look so old-school now that I felt a disconnect between them and the better animation. Not that the animation is great. The transformation scene and other parts are too CG, and that caused another disconnect.

Sailor Moon is reintroduced to her tiara.
Sailor Moon is reintroduced to her tiara.

Still, I enjoyed it. I thought Mitsuishi Kotono did a nice job of bringing the character to life again, giving her character energy, even if that means hearing all that mewling (I watched a dub the first time). Important bits, such as meeting Tuxedo Mask, were done with proper respect to the old series, and that includes the galaxy-wide opening bit. Big fans of the series will have plenty to complain about, and I’m sure they’ll have valid points to make. But for the casual fan like me it a promising start. Now, how long until we get to Sailor Jupiter?

Next, Shounen Hollywood, a show about a male idol group. To my shock, episode one wasn’t bad.

Your typical cherry blossom opening.
Your typical cherry blossom opening.

The main character appears to be Kakeru, a member of an as of yet unnamed idol group, scouted at the fast food he worked at by the president of … not sure, unless it’s the theatre where he and four other high school boys will eventually perform, as soon as they learn some footwork and finish cleaning the office. Fifteen years ago, the theatre launched a hit group called Shounen Hollywood. On the day the series begins, the president announces that he is going to revive the name with Kakeru and his fellow, bewildered unknowns. Why?

shollywood1-1

The theatre’s tried to launch other idols since the original group took off but none of them succeeded, and this bunch of boys doesn’t exactly inspire you with confidence. They don’t inspire themselves with confidence, either. While they’ll generally supportive of each other, they seem more embarrassed than anything, especially when the president comes up with intro lines for each of them and watches as they try to come up with appropriate poses. Anyone who’s been forced to improvise in an audition or rehearsal knows how humiliating that can be. But the show treats it with gentle humor. It’s their first time and they’re all doing their best. They’re also so hilariously bad that I laughed anyway. If they can keep up the honest but kind view toward idol life and keep away from cliché and melodrama (so far, so good), this might be worth watching. I don’t know if I will, but don’t let that stop you.

A computery opening.
A computery opening.

To wrap up this post, let’s take a look at Sword Art Online 2, where we’re plunked into a new virtual world called Gun Gale Online, where players are hanging out in a bar, watching a famous player boast on GGO-TV. A guy in a hood starts talking about power and shoots at the screen, and the famous player apparently dies. Yep, turns out he’s really dead, not to mention a couple others, and our boy Kirito is asked to log in and investigate, and not just to get shot to test their theory, honest, Kirito!

Maybe this is their version of sweet nothings ...
Maybe this is their version of sweet nothings …

The mystery was set up well enough, and frankly I’d like to see our sword-master Kirito in a world where guns rule. I’m also hoping Asuna joins him and he just doesn’t leave her on that bench where they were talking philosophy and virtual realities (and Yui) while spooning, a sweet but overly talky scene. For one half of the first season they were the best couple in anime, and I’d like to see them kick some butt again. Together. Also, I’m hoping that the villain in this has a cool name and not something stupid like, say, “Death Gun.” … Oh well …

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