Right, back on the horse. As usual, I will follow the Random Curiosity preview page as closely as I can, and I will give you the first comprehensible image of every episode 1 I can make myself watch. I won’t watch shows not in my interest area, so probably no sports shows–I KNOW I’m missing out, but I have to draw the line somewhere–probably no BL for the same reason. Sequels to shows I never watched in the first place are out. Stupidity, however, is not a deal-breaker. And on that note …
Ai Mai Mi –Surgical Friends– is the third season of a franchise I have never heard of. They begin by announcing the names of the seiyuu who will represent Japan, until someone complains, and then it’s a touching story where Ai buys Mai a coat because she doesn’t have one. And Mi dies, apparently, but as they say it was probably just a flesh wound.
Yeah, after that time off it’s good to get back in the anime saddle with something silly and pointless. The only problem with it I see right now is they spent too much time with the sweet middle story before tripping it up with a funny death. It’s under four minutes, I might not even remember to watch it again. Meanwhile, the real season begins later tonight.
Then I watched Akiba’s Trip: the Animation. It didn’t take long for me to catch the title’s true meaning, since we start with a battle in Akihabara where the hero (whom I first thought was the villain) raced around stripping the clothes off girls who were trying to attack him. After that we get a flashback to the boy, Tamotsu, and his imouto Niwaka go around searching for otaku stuff. They encounter a girl with a baseball bat who takes out some people, meets a cute blonde whom he immediately bonds with over figurines, the bat girl comes back, more fighting, and then he’s racing to rescue his sister who’s under threat from some “bugged” types, more fighting, a transformation and now he and bat girl (Matome, or Mayo) team up to save Akihabara from those who are under the influence of whatever it is, by stripping them. They’re sensitive to air, you see. Why their faces aren’t affected is not explained.
For what it is, it’s not bad. Those who are turned off by the premise are right to be, but those who aren’t might have some fun with it. I’m in-between. It’s low-budget but the brief action scenes are done well enough. There’s a promising backstory in Mayo, and the blonde (Arisa) is a bit of a mystery. Tamotsu is an issue. He’s a bit of a generic otaku perv, but often cleverly uses this to get what he wants out of people, or drive them away, he does brave things when his sister in trouble, and he has a couple of good, snarky lines here and there. Since some shows take an episode or two to gather steam, it might be worth watching another one. I’ll see how this season is shaping up before I decide.
Next it’s one of the more highly-anticipated shows of the season, Masamune-kun no Revenge, in which a boy named Makabe has buffed up to make himself irrestible at his new high school. He encounters another boy’s public and probably insincere confession and the girl, “Cruel Princess” Aki’s public humiliation of him. Aha! Makabe has found his target, the girl who turned him down years ago when he was a little fat kid. So we spend a lot of time watching Makabe stalk Aki, discover a secret, rescue her, etc, with a little surprise at the end to complicate things.
It’s a solid first episode, but nothing special, just setting up the situation and getting a few plot-marbles rolling. It falls into the coincidence trap a couple of times, with the rescue and with Aki’s secret coming out rather quickly, though the latter sets up a nice contrast between the two, the hyperglycemic Aki and the calorie-avoiding Makabe. Makabe is narcicisstic and a tad cruel, but tries to hide it, yet I begin to wonder how much of an act the “bad” points are, considering how insecure he can also be. It suggests we might have a character of some complexity here. As for Aki, there’s no good points about her that I can find at all, and while I know Makabe is driven by revenge, my advice to him would be to drop it and pick one of the other cute girls around. There are tons of them. I’m rooting for Futuba, the class rep, or maybe he should rescue poor Yoshino, Aki’s lackey.
Urara Meirochou is about four girls who come to the city of Meiro to train as Urara, a fortune teller. We focus on Chiya, a feral girl from the mountains who comes to the big city, instantly causes trouble, and tries to apologize by showing her belly, rather too often. She meets three other girls there for the same reason who have different fortune-tellng techniques, the best being shy Nono’s sinister doll, their teacher, and a cop who chases Chiya around for showing her belly. The story will concentrate on their rise in the fortune-telling ranks, and finding Chiya’s mother, answering why Chiya’s fortune reads “trouble.”
Yes it’s cute, but while a lot happens, the episode sort of plodded along. Worst was later on when they throw some infodumps on us; that’s when all those cute voices began to grate on me. They worked the belly gag to death; I hope they drop it soon. On the other hand, each of the four girls were interesting in their own way and it could be a fun team to watch once they get their act together. I’m not sure I’m up to watching them try, though.
Seiren apparently follows the same format as Amagami SS and has some of the same creative talent behind it, which is a good thing. And in fact it sets itself in pretty much the same way. If the uniforms weren’t different I’d expect to see Jyuuichi walk by with a girl. But instead we get Shouichi, who seems more hapless, more a victim of girly teasing than anything else. But he decides to get motivated, studies hard, does well on exams, decides to go to a two week study camp with his buddy and tutor Ikou, while at the same time falling a little in love with class beauty Hikari Tsuneki, who doesn’t seem to mind. But is she dating that older, bearded guy? And who the hell climbed through Shouichi’s hotel room window at the end?
One thing that made Amagami a success was its playfulness. I also enjoyed how it grounded each romance in a mundane, day-to-day setting. This new show has both going for it. Here the background event is studying for the future; the romantic stuff, well, lack of it so far, works around it. And just as every Amagami arc had its images and themes, Tsuneki’s arc here has … a kabuto beetle, brought up at the beginning and closing of the episode, the latter along with a wet girl. Not sure how that works into anything yet, but they say the beetle brings joy to people, especially boys. We’ll see how that works out here. The whole thing is also gently ecchi, maybe a tad more than Amagami, but it’s been a long time. So if you liked Amagami you might like Seiren. It’s definitly NOT Photo Kano.
After all that cute girlishness it’s something of a relieve to switch to Youjo Senki, where we start with WWI German infantrymen (okay, germanic) going over the top and getting slaughtered by members of the Republic, until a army-clad magical girl or two come to their rescue. The first girl we meet is Viktoriya, but the attention of everyone, friend and foe, is centered on Tanya Degurechaff, the “Devil of the Rhine,” a pint-sized, powerful and inhumane piece of work voiced by Yuuki Aoi, who always seems to relish whatever role she’s doing. Anyway, we then watch her deal with some insubordination, get some basics on the nature of the war and the Empire’s ludricious strategy, then watch another aerial battle … wait, I just noticed that this magical WWI sim has no airplanes …
Essentially this first episode was put out there to feature the show’s strengths: not only Tanya’s ability and cruelty, but the gritty battlefront scenes with indiscriminate death and destruction, well-depicted in the art. Apart from one very basic infodump to explain the basic situation and Plan 315, everything we need to kno is teased in at the right moment. The supernatural things fit in so seamlessly with the “realistic” things that you’d think there really were flying soldiers in WWI, well, apart from the airplanes or lack of. I also like how I should probably be rooting AGAINST Tanya and the empire, but I don’t. Mind you, I’m not rooting FOR them either. Good start.