New Spring 2016 #5

First off we have Koutetsujou no Kabaneri, and, yes, it’s sort of like Attack on Titan, but different enough.

Koutetsujou no Kabaneri has a fittingly bleak opening moment
Koutetsujou no Kabaneri has a fittingly bleak opening moment

We watch as a train is nearly overrun by Kabane, sort of zombies with glowing innards, mixed with scenes where a steampunk geek named Ikoma is trying out a new weapon, to no success, then switch to the next day, the train’s arrival, the checking for infectious kanbane wounds, and meet a few members of the Bushi, who don’t give a shit for the lowlifes who do the work in this walled-off town. For Ikoma the feeling is mutual, and he gets beaten and locked up for trying to stop an innocent man from getting killed. He meets a nice bushi princess or something named Mumei, but in a spectacular scene the next train, full of zombies, blows through the gate and its utter chaos, but at least Ikoma gets to try his new weapon and heal himself from a wound.

He gets better.
He gets better.

It’s pretty wild, and, as I said before, very similar to Titan, but there are some differences. The kabane are human sized and seem to be somewhat organized. Also, it does a nice turn on the “cowards who live behind walls” theme. Ikoma hates the bushi and for good reason. All they do this episode is take care of themselves and threaten, beat or kill anyone of the lower classes if they get out of line. Ikoma sees that this comes from fear of the Kabane. We might get a better treatment of class conflict than Titan gave us. Ikoma feels like a cross between Eren and Armin, the rage of the former with the brains and practicality of the latter, which sounds good to me. But in this screwed-up world he lives in, how will he get any of the bushi to realize that he has valuable knowledge and skills? That’s going to be as big a struggle as any zombie fight.

Not sure why Shounen Maid opens with a smokestack, but they pan off it quickly enough.
Not sure why Shounen Maid opens with a smokestack, but they pan off it quickly enough.

From the previews, Shounen Maid looked ridiculous, but episode one was a good start. A young boy named Chihiro loses her mother and hasn’t fully absorbed his situation yet, but it turns out he has a rich and eccentric uncle, Madoka, who happily takes him in. Madoka seems like a lazy rich layabout, and work-obsessed Chihiro finds him annoying. Besides, the mansion is a mess. However Madoka is more astute than he seems, so he “hires” Chihiro to do the chores in exchange for room and board. There follow some light scenes of Chihiro learning to make a new home for himself while wearing the maid outfit Madoka made for him, with his feelings for his mother still unresolved.

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It’s a typical first episode, where time is spent setting up the points they will return to later, mainly Chihiro’s mother, and they have to introduce the characters. They do a good job with both. This is a comedy, so everything is kept as cheerful as it can be when there’s a grieving boy in a strange new place. Madoka should annoy me but he’s too perceptive and fundamentally decent. Chihiro doesn’t have much going for him apart from doing his best in a bad situation and his outrage over dirt. Next week we’ll meet some more characters and begin to see how the dynamics will work.

We see rather too much of this view ...
We see rather too much of this view …

Sakamoto desu ga? features Sakamoto, first year high schooler, being cool. Some of the less cool boys in class try to take him down, but fail, because he’s cooler than them. … and that’s about it.

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Not sure about this. It’s fun seeing Sakamoto’s stylish responses to adversity, but they spend so much time setting up the situation, having the bad kids interior-monologing their jealousy and anger, that I got bored fairly often. One Punch Man had the same problem–everything was a slow buildup to that one punch, but that show tossed in outlandish heroes and villains, not to mention other little tricks, so it was usually fun to watch anyway. Plus, the animation was much better; in Sakamoto it’s damn near terrible. The villains aren’t much fun either, just the usual thugs and jealous boys. Plus we had the volleyball scenes, funny enough the first time (but long), not terribly funny the next two times. It’s as if the show couldn’t think of anything else to do, or they were saving on the obviously tiny animation budget.

Takana-kun fades listlessly into focus.
Takana-kun fades listlessly into focus.

 

Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge is another show where a unique main character’s schtick might not be enough to carry the series, but I have higher hopes for it. It stars Tanaka, who is always listless and just wants to sit there, or sleep, basically not do anything. We watch as he goes through school days with his buddy Oota, who watches Tanaka’s inaction and, well, listless pronouncements on the importance, glory, and discipline of listlessness, with a sense of fascination.

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It’s Oota who does the heavy comedy lifting so far. Tanaka’s lines are occasionally funny, but success will come from Oota’s straight-man skills. Fortunately he’s off to a good start. He can add an amusing twist to his comment that rescues the joke. Still, with only the two of them this episode, it dragged a bit, and I wonder if the breezy, slow pace wasn’t also a little responsible. There were far too many beat moments used to carry the joke. However, the direction usually worked, and I enjoyed the odd combo of instruments in the background. Now, let’s get those side characters in and see what happens.

Kiznaiver has one of those blood-red flashbacks that anime loves to start series with.
Kiznaiver has one of those blood-red flashbacks that anime loves to start series with.

Kiznaiver starts with your average fiery flashback where a girl tells the boy that he will find his pain again, and jumps off a pole possibly to her death. Twelve years later the boy, Katsuhiru, keeps having the flashback but doesn’t know what it’s about, possibly because bullies have been pounding him on the head for years, which is okay, because he can’t feel pain. We meet a few other people just as annoying as he is, including Noriko, who talks about the state of the world before pushing him down stairs. At the weird hospital he meets the other annoying people and they all discover that their pain is now connected, thanks to surgery, and Noriko is leading them in a grand world-peace experiment.

Okay, the "share the pain" system seems to work.
Okay, the “share the pain” system seems to work.

This premise is perhaps the oddest of the season so far. Let’s see, there is violence in the world because people cannot feel each others pain, so if everyone shares their pain it will be paradise. So this little group of unpleasant people (chosen for their types by Noriko, proving that she’s as fucked-up as they are) starts sharing pain and how will THAT help anyone? Plus, each of them was abducted, forced into this experiment by a twisted girl (working with the city, apparently) with a personal worldview they might not even share? Right now, as much as I dislike just about every character, I feel sympathy for them. They are victims. I’ll probably watch another episode or two to see how it pans out, but I don’t feel optimistic.

Blue skies over an ocean (not in shot).  Good way to start a naval series.
Blue skies over an ocean (not in shot). Good way to start a naval series.

Haifuri, this season’s cute girls in military situations show, has Akeno-chan, who is entering a floating high school to become a Blue Mermaid, women who sail ships to defend us from something they haven’t told us about yet. Akeno seems like your average, stupid lead character, but to everyone’s surprise she’s made captain of a destroyer (to the annoyance of the more-qualified but unlucky Munetani), and all of a sudden this genki girl is efficiently putting her ship out to sea. However, some of her officers aren’t quite as efficient yet, so they’re late to a rendezvous, so Furushou, their instructor, tries to blow them out of the water. When they counterattack to save themselves, it’s a big issue, and suddenly there’s a mutiny occurring for no reason at all. What the hell is going on here?

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Well, I might watch the next episode in order to help me figure out the first episode, though I must say punishment by bombardment was rather a nice surprise. Dunno about the mutiny, though. Elsewhere, I don’t have a lot of hope. The early scenes, meeting people, slipping on banana peels, the opening ceremony, all went by as if the show wanted to get them over with so they could get to the battle, which wasn’t itself bad, though it took Akeno forever to decide to retaliate against the aggressor. Again, the mutiny bit makes no sense at all; I hope the plotting won’t be as ridiculous as that all the way through. I’ll find out if I decide to stay with the show, but there’s no guarantee of that.

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