Let’s begin with Bakuon!, where high schooler Hane struggles to ride her bicycle up the hill to her new school, and admires the girl who rides her motorcycle up. This turns out to be Onsa, who rides for the coolness of it. Then we meet Lime, who never takes her helmet off, and finally Rin, who has a temper. So does Onsa, and Rin is a Suzuki fanatic, possibly the only conflict we’ll see in this apparent slice-of-life series, apart from the obstacles Hane and possibly Rin will have getting their licenses.
Early on I was about to give up on the show. Hane is an airhead who knows nothing about bikes, and Onsa’s mix of wanting to look cool and basic insecurities wasn’t enough to balance it, but, like good slice of life series, it takes a turn for the weird. The practice bike at Hane’s class gives her advice, weird enough, but advice makes me think the bike was a prostitute in a past life (while idiot Hane thinks “this must be that communicating with your bike I keep hearing about”). Later, Onsa paraphrases an old Kennedy speech to talk about Suzuki lovers. And we learn a lot about bikes, like how hard they are to lift, and what bike model says about the owner. If the show can keep up this weirdness I don’t mind watching more, even though I have absolutely no interest in motorbikes.
Next it’s Seisen Cerberus, where we watch some people lure a dragon up the surface so they can seal it, but some asshole hits a sealer with an arrow and the whole plan goes to hell, maybe literally. Jump forward a few years and the young boy, Hiiro, has grown into a wandering swordsman looking for his Dalhalbart, which is, with an amazing coincidence, flashed right in front of him, then stolen by a pack of boys, stolen again, taken back again while we learn that the guy who runs this town is a pawn for Nambuuko, another asshole, and everyone makes a lot of talk about a gem called the Grand Trowa, which HAPPENS to be Hiiro’s father’s sealing gem, which one of the kids almost steals (kids run rampant in this town) and is about to be executed for that, Hiiro’s sword isn’t all that big, and the dragon comes back, oh, who cares?
Confusing episode, which isn’t necessarily bad, and the surprises kept me watching, and guessing. On the hand, there’s a lot of silly magic jargon which is meant to sound impressive but instead makes you think they’re making it up as they go. A mineral called “magicite?” C’mon. Hiiro’s transformation from formidable to not-so-formidable swordsman was amusing (okay, be fair, he’s not a beginner either), but it felt like an episode one trick to keep you watching. Frankly, though this episode wasn’t all that bad, I don’t see much originality here. Moving on …
Hundred begins with a boy and a girl being attacked by a big monster, city in flames, etc., but it’s actually the boy’s flashback on his way to his training on an aircraft carrier, where his harem instantly begins to form. Being the “all-time record holder” (they don’t say in what) has brought him unwanted fame. A girl flings herself on him, only he’s a trap, and the show ruins the fun by telling us this from the start. Anyway, there’s the opening assembly where he manages to piss off Claire, the “queen” of the school, who challenges him to a duel. We meet more girls, Hayato gets his “Hundred,” and we don’t get to the duel with Claire because the show wasted so much time. Oh, there’s a sick sister, too. Naturally she has a bit of an oniisan complex.
This show tries to do all the things you expect from a magical training school show like Asterisk, Cavalry, and the like, but keeps screwing up, though I’m sort of relieved that Claire didn’t challenge Hayato because he saw her in her underwear. That will come later, I guess. They have a perfectly good trap character but reveal him in his second scene. The techinfodumps are even duller than usual, and delivered slowly, with declarations about beating the monsters thrown in. There is nothing to distinguish this show from all the others of its type, and its execution is a cut below. Pass. Well, I do kind of want to see the Hayato/Claire battle.
Next we have Joker Game, a dark and humorless show about a spy training school before the war. We follow Sakuma, a student who is too bound by honor to do this spy stuff seriously. We have scene after scene where the head man (didn’t get the name) or his seven fellow students say cryptic things, or cheat Sakuma at poker, because it wasn’t a real game, you see. You begin to wonder why the guy is at the school to begin with. He seems to be an outsider there. Finally, they organize a mock raid on an American gaijin’s house, and it looks like the unit was set up … No, it looks like the unit set up Sakuma to fail. Stay tuned!
Or don’t. While the show looks great and I like the 1930s atmosphere, too much of it was an attempt to be mysterious which wound up being cryptic. And Sakuma is too much of a tool. Did the others really organize that poker game, wait for him to get out bed for some water in the middle of the night, just to take his money or teach him a lesson about the real world? And what is a man who dislikes being a spy so much even doing at a spy school? And will the man with the cane ever shut up about the black solitude of being a spy? Granted, the crisis at the end was well done, so maybe the show will overcome its dourness with good stories.
Sousei no Onmyouji starts with, as many series do, a nasty flashback full of flames and a child, Rokuro, in the middle of it, apologizing a lot. Cut to now, two years later, bright sunshine, pleasant urban life, and what appears to be a completely different story, with 14 year-old Rokuro confessing to girls a lot and acting like a shounen comedy character. Oh, and there’s a exorcist named Benio who’s been called to Tokyo, more in line with the first style we saw. She fights a Kegare, nasty alt-universe (named Magano) things that keep invading, it’s glowing evil red around her, and she loses her energy and falls out of the sky. Rokuro catches her and we’re back in the shounen story with a meet-cute scene. To get to the point, reluctant Rokuro gets roped into fighting a kegare, to Benio’s surprise.
Stylistically this show jumps all over the place. The ojiisan looks out of Ranma1/2, the monsters are bloody and nasty. I’m not crazy about the shounen bits, and the storytelling in that format is inept. But the battle scenes look great, the red of the monsters contrasting with the bright colors Benio uses when she battles, and they’re great fun to watch. In the end, for me, the latter outweighs the former. Besides, I rather liked watching both main characters.
Finally, to Bishoujo Yuugi Unit Crane Game, a short show where we learn that an asteroid is going to crash into the earth and wipe out humanity unless Agent Fox enlists three girls to help, Asuka, Fyouko, and Mirai. Naturally Fox enlists them by telling them they’re going to idols, and then has them get a job in an arcade. Yes, that’s what I said.
So we have two inexplicable actions (getting the girls to save the earth by being idols, and sticking them in an arcade) and, inexplicably, I find myself wondering how it’s all going to work. That’s about the only thing interesting thing about this show, which is otherwise kind of lifeless, but it’s enough that I’ll stick around, for a couple more episodes, anyway..