Why the world can’t revolve around me, and start the new season right when I get busy at work rather than a couple days ago when I had free time I don’t understand. Well anyway, here’s the first new post of the new season of the new year! I’ll do this like I regularly do. I’m going by the Random Curiosity schedule and descriptions, and I will start each review with the first comprehensible shot (to avoid fade-ins and other moody effects) of each show’s episode #1, at least the ones I bother to look at. Sequels to shows I didn’t watch or couldn’t finish won’t appear here, and probably some others according to my tastes and mood. What are you going to do about it, anyway. So here we go, with Prince of Stride Alternative!
PSA starts with a young girl (Nana) in a flowery field listening to a stride contest on the radio, and then she starts at the high school where the, er, striders, went to. Around the same time we meet a rather nutty boy (Yagami) who keeps injuring himself by leaping around, and then the creepy, taciturn Takeru, who freaks Yagami out. Okay, I thought. Then there’s the stride club itself, almost disbanded and merged with the Shogi club, and some more odd people who hang out there, including the older and more bitter Heath. And, er, stuff happens and suddenly they’re having a stride competition in the school to see if the new kids stay in the club or not. I think.
It mostly follows Nana but switches quickly and adeptly to Yagami and then to others, but it’s clear this is a sports club anime. The trouble is, that’s the only clear thing about it. Why is Yagami running a race to get OUT of the club? He’s not being forced to join, well, if you don’t count Takeru’s efforts. His decision at the end makes a little more sense, but who won? Also, the race itself doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense. It’s a relay race where apparently you can leap over and around things, and both members of each team are running at once. I had a hard time figuring out who was winning or losing or even who’s side everyone was on, but, okay, partly because I didn’t understand why they were having the race at all. I will say that it all looks very good and I had fun watching the race, even if I didn’t understand it. The characters are mainly types and they try too hard to make the race seem really cool, but there’s a lot of comedy and a generally fun atmosphere to it all, until the VERY SERIOUS race. Could be a lot worse, but not for me.
Mighty Kyoto Animation’s latest work is Musaigen no Phantom World, where our magical-powered high school boy, Haruhiko, tries to earn cash by getting rid of phantoms that came into our world after a virus got out and messed with our brains. He’s accompanied by fellow talent and fanservice source Mai, and a little pixie thing that adds commentary and little else. Haruhiko sees another girl, Reina, show off some amazing phantom-eating talent and tries to recruit her for their failing team, but she’s reluctant until she joins them on a mission involving telephone poles doing the limbo. More blinding bits of magic and fanservice occurs.
What we got here is most of Kyoani’s recent offerings rolled into one, apart from Hibike Euphonium (and we’ll get to that show in the next review). Chuu2koi, Kanata, Tamako, Amagi, even Free with its study of leg muscles (the show can’t stop ogling Mai) come up here and there. But episode one is disappointing. It looks great of course, this is Kyoani, but the episode is like other shows I’ve seen where the script feels like a rough draft and not a finished product. It does the usual high school club things, adds the usual girl-falling-on-boy business, the reluctant club recruit. But it feels too routine, even clumsy. At one point Haruhiko begins an infodump by saying “This is common knowledge, but I’ll tell you anyway,” and tries to pass it off as a wink to the audience, when the fact is they should have done a better job telling the story in the first place. I expect better from this team. Still, looks good, a lot of good voice talent … I’ll see what ep2 looks like before deciding.
Shows derived from Kyoani works part 2: Haruchika ~Haruta to Chika wa Seishun Suru~, only this work is covered by PA Works. It starts with a school brass band nervously waiting to come onstage and talking about thy got there. Okay, Hibike Euphonium, and since we already had that one, my heart sank, but the talk turned to mysterious events, and we get a quick image of musical notes painted in blood on a blackboard. Murder? Supernatural thriller? Turns out this might not be so bad after all! We meet our heroine Homura Chika, a girl who has abandoned volleyball for the flute because it’s more ladylike, who meets the dreamy music teacher Kusakabe and childhood friend Kamijou who’s going to be this show’s Houtarou, only without the isolating hallucinations. And the blood on the chalkboard turned out quite innocent.
None of it is terribly good. While the band in this series is small and they’re scrambling for members, it otherwise reminds me TOO much of Hibike Euphonium. The mystery of the red notes was clever, but the outcome felt silly and trivial, and why did the culprit write it in bloody red if he/she had opposite intentions? Chika has potential as an energetic but dim-witted lead if she would drop her “I’m going to be ladylike!” speeches. Kamijou has nothing particularly interesting going on, and I dread having to tell the twin girls apart. Still, it’s PA Works and an episode one. Give it time.
Next it’s Norn9: Norn+Nonette, where we meet a girl named, well, she forgets her name, but a “traveler” told her that in the future a ship would take her away and now she’s waiting for it. Sure enough some bishies meet her, show off some superpowers and soon she’s on a floating, traveling paradise, where there are more bishie guys and some cute girls. She gets hit on by Kakeru (blond bishie) while the others disapprove, nearly dies, remembers her name, maybe (Koharu), and then the ship is attacked. Oh, they’re representatives of The World, the benign world-organizing place and they’re being taken to various places.
There’s a lot going on here, but I’ll credit the episode for not killing us with infodumps. We still get some, but by the time we do we’re actually interested and curious because we don’t know what the hell’s going on. The eleven people on the ship are all powered somehow, but we’ve really only seen Kakeru’s. No idea what Koharu can do, and she doesn’t want to say. Don’t know about any of the characters yet. The usual young male types, the gentleman, the clown, the tank, the bitter one. And no clue about the girls. The episode feels awkward at times, odd pauses or other slow bits that make we worry about the execution, but apart from the character designs it looks nice, the opening scenes especially. If they can do something interesting with the characters, and I’m not certain they can, this might be worth watching, or not.
Sushi Police is just what the name describes. Three cops, well, two cops and a leaky robot, go around shutting down or blowing up places that serve inauthentic sushi. Naturally it starts in California. The first episode simply introduces the team and show them in action. I wonder what episode two will be about; there’s not much room for anything else with this premise, and the episodes are only 3.5 minutes long. The Pixaresque style didn’t do much for me, either.