Happy New Year! It’s good to be back. Time to start a new season. As usual I will use the Random Curiosity preview list to organize these posts. Also as usual I will only write about shows that I might want to watch anyway. That means no sequels to shows I didn’t watch before, and I might ignore certain genres, good as the shows might be. Finally, fanservice and stupidity are not deal breakers. Oh, and I start each review with the show’s first image. Here we go!
Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho stars Mari, an unmotivated second-year who realizes she isn’t doing much with her youth, and it bugs her to the point that she decides to hop on a train to Tokyo, I think, but chickens out and feels worse. Then she see a fellow student drop a packet with a million yen in it, and in returning it learns that the girl, Shirase, is saving up to go to Antarctica, where her mother disappeared years ago. In other words, a girl with no direction in her life, and looking for one, meets a girl who is so focused on a seemingly unattainable goal that the rest of the school think she’s a weirdo. Love at first sight, at least for Mari. Shirase seems pretty happy about it too. And we will learn a lot about Antarctica as we watch.
Good basic first episode, a bit dreamy and romantic but nothing wrong with that, and of course since it’s a prelude to adventure they are nowhere near Antarctica yet. Mari is your basic high school ditz, nothing special there, but we’ll see how sharing and chasing a dream changes her. Shirase comes off as unfriendly at first–perhaps it’s the constant disdain people have for her dream that’s turning her sour, because when Mari gives her encouragement she gets all, er, girly, surprisingly quickly, too. The other two girls haven’t been formally introduced to us yet. The background art is highly realistic and it’s a little jarring to see the less realistic characters acting in front of it, especially when all the characters have a strange white outline around them. This isn’t always a problem–in fact the show often looks great.
A couple things that bug me: is Shirase named after the Icebreaker, or is that just poetic invention? Who the hell carries a million yen around with them, and if you have to, wouldn’t you store it in your back more carefully? Finally? Mari wrote that she wants to take a “trip without a plan,” but Antarctica is going to take a lot of planning.
Now to a show about a girl who would go to Antarctica if they had ramen to try there. I trying to remember one of my resolutions this year is to drop a couple of kilos, also eat more vegetables. But then I watch Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san and now I’m hungry for food that won’t be good for me. Anyway, the heroine of this show is not Koizumi but a girl named Yuu, who’s developed a big crush on Koizumi, the beautiful transfer student who doesn’t have a word for anyone. After endless rebuffs Yuu spots Koizumi waiting in line at a new ramen place. Girls don’t go into ramen places alone (she tells us)–chance! Koizumi still doesn’t have much of a word for her, but will on occasion tell Yuu how wrong she is about various types of ramen and give her (and, of course, us) lectures on the various, bewildering and seemingly endless takes on ramen found all over Japan.
If you want to learn about ramen, and I sort of do, you will love this show. The only problem is that the lectures are so fast that it’s hard to keep up. Not only about ingredients and cooking styles, but different ways to eat the stuff, which type to allow the broth to permeate the noodles and the like. If you like to watch cute girls eating erotically, you will probably like this show. So far the only girl to eat sexy is Koizumi, and I frankly don’t find her that cute. But there are side characters that will probably join in on the eating, so this situation might improve. If you’re looking for a story with a plot with more than what I’ve described here, the show is probably not for you, but I admit to having admiration for Koizumi’s passion, while Yuu’s optimistic stalking was maybe my favorite thing in the episode–she just refuses to take no for an answer. I also like the side character Misa, who gets grumpy when she’s not the cutest girl in the room. Episode one deserves a chance if you like any one of these things.
Next, it’s yet another show where girls get together to do things girls aren’t expected to do. Yuru Camp starts with some girls around a campfire, having a good time for a bit too long, then flashes back to one of them, the laconic Rin, as she rides her bike (for too long) to a camping spot and sets up, at which point I decided the show wants do to things slowly, so I stopped mentally complaining, besides we get tips on making a campfire, so it’s educational. Her blissful solitude is interrupted by the appearance of Nakeshiko, just moved to the area, who fell asleep after riding her bike and is afraid to go back in the dark. So it’s camping-bonding for the both of them. And we learn that Rin, for all her experience, never camps with other people, until now.
I don’t believe that. Someone must have taught Rin how to do all this camping stuff, and she goes to a school with an outdoor activities club where the other characters in the preview are seen hanging out. And unlike Koizumi in the ramen show she isn’t unfriendly to her classmates … Well, maybe there’s a little mystery to solve there, or maybe it won’t matter. This is a stop and smell the roses show where you learn about camping. Whether or not you’ll like it will boil down to the characters. Rin is fine, taciturn but not unpleasant; Nakeshiko reminds me of Yui from K-ON. From what we get of the other girls this episode, which is not a lot, they tend to chatter. Like the other shows in this post so far, it can’t hurt to try this. Just don’t expect things to move quickly.
Toji no Miko starts with an evil giant glowing red centipede running amok in Tokyo, leaping over confused riot police, etc, until it is interrupted and taken down by some shrine maidens, especially one with an extra super-power. After that prelude and a brief intro which explains stuff we have already figured out, we jump to the Minoseki Academy Special Religious Military Unit katana finals, where best buds Kanami and Mai square off in the finals. They both to to the grand championship, held in a very prestigious place and to be attended by very prestigious people, where the only real standout is Kanami and a scary green uniformed girl named Hiyori. In the championship bout we get something totally unexpected, by me, anyway, and no, it has nothing to do with those centipede things earlier. Actually, two unexpected things occur, and now Kanami’s on the run, too.
Yes, I didn’t see that happening at all, but I have to say it didn’t matter to me too much, it instead makes me unsure where this show is going to go. Are we going to have superpowered shrine maidens going after monsters or each other? One, the other, both, still doesn’t matter. I didn’t really like anything in the show too much. The girls are all types, genki Kanami, grumpy Hiyori, though there was something to be said for Mai’s split between being devoted to her friend and frustrated at always losing to her. Also, it looks a little weird. The character designs are fine but the buildings all look sort of bloated, puffed full of air. Interesting style choice. Also, the aradama (monsters), at least the one we saw, wasn’t enough to keep me interested either.