New shows: Spring 2015 #5

You know, I don’t know how many shows and now beginning my fifth new series post, I haven’t seen anything that has amazed me yet.  Apart from Teekyuu, of course.  Let’s see if anything in this post can get me interested.

I forget how this show starts.  Sorry.
We start with a retelling of a fairy tale.

Ore Monogatari!! … Not very.  We got Gouda, a huge guy with a big heart whose best friend Suna gets the girls he wants (and turns him down).  Then Gouda rescues a girl named Yamata from a subway groper, and she starts acting really nice to him.  Much of the episode after the groper has to do with meeting the girl a couple of times (she pops by to thank him and later they meet to retrieve her cell phone), and Gouda second-guessing the girl’s intentions and trying not to fall for her, because, you know …

But he can’t help it!

That’s actually the best part, the mind games he goes through out of years of experience.  The girl actually likes Suna, he thinks, so he must once again ignore his own heart.  It’s a natural turn of mind for the downtrodden, to mistrust luck and kindness, but he comes off as kind of a lunkhead to keep thinking this way, even if Yamata does inspire Suna to say the first positive things he’s ever said about a girl (and why? we wonder.  Maybe he’s actually encouraging Gouda in his own way–Suna’s hard to read so far).  Of course, Gouda IS a lunkhead, so while his mindset might get irritating, it’s also normal.  But the show looks like a fru-fru love story with all the trimmings, except the lunkhead hero.  Can Gouda carry the predictable plot on his own?

A tree.  Don't know why it's so dark, though.  Maybe it's a fade-in.
A tree. Don’t know why it’s so dark, though. Maybe it’s a fade-in.

Okay, so Ore Monogatari didn’t exactly answer my plea for something amazing, how about Kyoukai no Rinne?  We got Sakura, a girl who saw something she shouldn’t as a child and now can see spirits, though they’re not very scary, just annoying.  A new classmate named Rokodou shows up, one of those bitter, wounded types, at least that’s how he appears, whose job it is to escort lost spirits to the afterlife with the help of a big wheel-thing.  And, by sheer coincidence, a classmate’s cellphone seems to be haunted, though why she didn’t do what everyone else did and change her cell phone number, or report it to the police as a stalker is beyond me.

A representative of the spirit world.
A representative of the spirit world.

Rumiko Takahashi created this, which is not a bad thing, but made me wonder if the whole thing would be … old fashioned.  But for the first episode of a long-running franchise it does pretty well.  Rokodou’s outer bitterness is undercut by his continually hitting Sakura up for small change (the heavens apparently run on it) to do his magic.  Sakura has seen enough spirits to be blase about them, thus saving us episode one freakouts and permitting her to add blunt, world-weary asides as a straight man.  Though frankly I want her to get a little angrier and maybe bash Rokodou on the head every now and then.  I like it when Takahashi’s characters get bopped on the head.  Not bad.  Don’t know if I’ll keep watching it.  I’m still waiting for the show that will amaze me.

An appropriate starry sky to start Pleiades.
An appropriate starry sky to start Pleiades.

So how about Houkago no Pleiades? you ask.  You must be joking!  A remake of a show being pushed by auto-makers about a girl named Suburu who must collect cosmic engine car parts with her magical girl friends?  … And, actually, turns out it’s not that bad.  We meet Suburu, high school astronomy nut who goes up to the school observatory to watch a meteor shower and finds herself in a gated garden instead, where she talks with a redheaded guy, then chases a little squishy thing down a hall where some magical girls are hanging out.  The squishy thing is their president, an alien, and they’re out to collect parts of his engine so he can go home, but they haven’t had any luck yet.  Suburu joins them on a light-show adventure on brooms that make car noises, and their fortunes change.
pleiades1-1A magical girl story about car parts, really.  But they did a nice job of keeping me interested.  Suburu’s WTF bits were mixed in with the other girls’ banter (and they had some entertaining lines, to boot), so I didn’t get bored.  The light show was pretty.  They have some emotional depth to work with between Suburu and Aoi, a magical girl she used to know but drifted away from.  It was comical and gentle.  No, it’s not the amazing show I was looking for, but it was a pleasant, pretty first episode.

A kind of weird, arty beginning for a series about a cat-girl.
A kind of weird, arty beginning for a series about a cat-girl.

Also pleasant, is Etotama.  We start with a bizarre battle in the remains of a city, looking like a post apocalypse setting, but more colorful, where two cute little animal girls duke it out and a narrator reminds us of why cats aren’t in the zodiac.  Then switch to an average high school guy named Takeru who moves into a place, discovers a portal to the gods, and out pops our heroine, Nya.  Guess what animal she represents.  The rest of the episode is spent having her trying various come-ons to let Takeru let her stay there, like pandering to his otaku fetish types (Takeru has shown no indication that he IS an otaku).  Another girl, er, Uni-Tan, arrives for the sole purpose of providing exposition, and then the Dragon-tan(?) shows up to beat up Nya for a while, for reasons too silly to mention.

I'm not so sure.
I’m not so sure.

Yes, it’s ridiculous, silly, and overly cute, but I rather liked it.  Nya manages to touch all the fetish bases without making herself disgusting or overly annoying, and her energy reminded me a bit of Nyaruko.  Meanwhile, the actual zodiac members are such a bunch of goofballs that you wonder why Nya wants to join them anyway.  In fact, Nya admits she doesn’t know anymore.  We get a little fourth-wall breaking, but not too much to make it feel forced.  The battles are CG and look a bit clumsy, but it was so bright and pretty that I didn’t really care.  Still not the show that will amaze me, but it’s another pleasant one, especially if you like cat-girls.

One second into Punch Line and Yuuta's already shocked about something.
One second into Punch Line and Yuuta’s already shocked about something.

Lastly for now, we have Punch Line, a noitaminA show, so maybe it will amaze me!  … Let’s see, there’s a bus hijacking and a kid named Yuuta watches as a magical girl or two fight off the attackers and show off their panties a lot, which has a big nosebleed followed by unconsciousness effect on Yuuta, who wakes up, sees more panties, and winds up dead, or half dead, needing to find the “Nandala Gandala” spellbook in order to get his body back (says a talking cat who does backstory duties for us).  While searching for it in his apartment building he encounters lots of girls who flash their panties, and an asteroid destroys the earth, but it’s no biggie since he can reset it.  And so on and so on.

It was either this shot or a panty shot.
It was either this shot or a panty shot.

They’re going for the “throw everything at the viewer right off and completely disorient them” trick, which usually doesn’t work (Kyousougiga, Rolling Girls) unless there’s a core narrative to latch onto (Kill la Kill).  We don’t really get one here.  Oh, there’s Yuuta trying to get his body back, but I didn’t really care.  There is the “see panties and explode,” repeating bit, but that bugged me the first time it happened and dismayed me when I discovered it was going to be a key point in the series.  That mysterious silver-haired villain (aren’t they all?) is barely worth talking about.  The various girls are kind of fun, and might be worth watching, if the show can lay off the panty shots, which it can’t, you know, because of the plot.  Well, maybe it’s a big tease and they’ll have a completely different story next week, but that could be just as annoying.  Well, parts of it, such as Strange Juice’s (not)transforming scene, were fun, and it certainly was lively.

Sigh, still no amazing show …

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