We’ll start this second installment with Heavy Object, which starts with a rather long explanation about where the world is at now that giant superweapons (objects) do most of the war-raging, and how it’s effected the geopolitical climate (profoundly). Then we move to an object base in Alaska where two cannon-fodder, er, soldiers named Qwenthur (my heart sinks when I think about typing that name all season) and Havia, slack off from their duties to talk about their lives, and the lot of cannon-fodder, er, soldiers now, and to hunt game. We also meet the object pilot (driver? The things don’t fly), a remote but not unfriendly girl who I’ll just call Princess, also the soldier’s superior officer, and a cranky old tech lady, and they all talk more.
It’s an information episode, but not a bad one. There’s the occasional “as you know, (insert infodump here)” but most of the time the important points are introduced naturally through the banter. The show makes one serious wrong turn when the Princess is being nearly crushed to death by her restraints and Qwenthur confronted with perhaps touching her boobs, but otherwise he pushes the naughty thoughts away and works with the situation at hand. As for the princess, she might be more melancholy than aloof, because she hints (or maybe knows, if that bit at the end was a flash-forward) that the object she pilots, or drives may be no match for second-gen, more specialized models. And there’s the concept that, cannon-fodder aside, the objects do all the fighting now and so innocent people tend not to die in wars anymore. Enough interesting material to keep me watching.
Gakusen Toshi Asterisk has plenty of info to feed us too, but it’s not as smooth. After we see a girl get probably killed in some back-alley magic sword MMA battle, we get our first infodump, about kids with special powers, and then we see them in action as our hero, first-year transfer student Ayato, leaps up trees to a window to return a handkerchief, where, of course, a tsundere girl (Julis) is changing. That leads to thanks and a duel on school grounds which is interrupted by student council prez Claudia, which leads to our second infodump and stage two of Ayato’s harem-forming. Then Ayato’s standard-issue bro/sidekick introduces himself and we get another infodump and a confrontation between Julis and some idiot. Oh, earlier someone tried to stab Julis with a laser or something.
It sounds pretty bad, but apart from the exposition it flowed well enough. There’s nothing we haven’t seen before: Ayato has a mission, maybe, and so does Julis. There’s an unfortunate boob-grabbing scene. The school has tournaments with other schools and all the students are ranked. But maybe the familiarity helps it go down more smoothly. And once the show settles in they’ll probably ease up on the infodumps. And I liked the homeroom teacher, who carries a nailbat with her during class. I hope we get more of her. An adequate first episode that, based on the material, could have been a lot worse.
Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry … did I just watch the same show twice? Well, we get Ikki, the “weakest” magic user at his magic school, but with great will and fighting ability, catching a girl naked in his room. She’s Stella, a tsundere princess who decides they will fight a duel even though they’re opposites in terms of ability. Turns out Ikki makes up for in determination, practice, and guile what he lacks in magic powers. Oh, yeah, they’re going to be roommates! Hence the room confusion. You think the school would at least warn the two kids first. Anyway, they make up their differences at the end and now the story, whatever it is, can commence.
There ARE some differences between this show and Asterisk. In Cavalry it’s the powerful girl (Stella) to enters the school and not the main character; he’s already there. Also, Ikki’s power is low and Ayato’s is unknown, at least early on. Asterisk’s story is maybe darker. The homeroom teacher in Cavalry doesn’t carry a nailbat, well, I’m assuming, and we’ve yet to see if Cavalry has a flirtatious SC prez. Cavalry is a little more ecchi as well; speaking of which, Stella’s underwear was black, Julis’s was white. But, jeez, the similarities! Hapless hero sees pink-haired tsundere princess in her underwear, is challenged to a duel where the princess is surprised by his ability, in a school that has magic battle tournaments with other schools but hasn’t done well recently, and all the stuff about things to prove. I think Cavalry has the edge there, with Stella’s desire to stop being treated like a genius and instead be actually challenged. Like Asterisk, it’s not bad for what it is, could be worse, etc. Take your pick. I may pick neither.
Owarimonogatari, the latest of the Monogatari franchise, is the first anime this season that I’ve been looking forward to. And I sat back and pushed the button thinking I’ll do a quickie thing on a typical episode, like I always do. But episode 1 at least is a 48 minutes long, and, yes, it’s all talk.
After a brief explanation about Euler’s Identity and a statement that the latest story will be about math (and I got worried) we start the story with Araragi and Ougi Oshino stuck in a classroom where time has stopped, and Ougi’s already in full Monogatari-girl mode, explaining, expounding, speculating, and insulting poor Araragi. I had forgotten about Ougi, but she fits right in. We move to a flashback (actually, the first bit is a flashback too) where Araragi is forced to preside over a class meeting about who cheated on their math exams (Araragi got a 100 BTW). A painful retelling of the story, with Ougi’s questions scattered throughout, and you wonder just who the hell she is and who’s side she’s on.
Which I guess is the point. She comes off as already knowing the answers, guiding Araragi through his memories, to the moment where he lost something of his humanity, for two different reasons that the show gives us, both of them legit. She’s like a psychologist in that respect, but also one willfully curious in an adolescent way, or interested in how Araragi will react to the truth he’s been hiding from himself. At any rate, I don’t trust her. But I am curious about the next event (the return of a certain student), how Hanekawa is involved, and what Senjougahara felt about that class meeting. And about Ougi, of course, though 48 minutes alone with her in a classroom was too much.