Happy New Year, and welcome to part one of my new season posts. Because I have no imagination, I will do the same thing I do every season, that is, write briefly about each show I decide to watch, and include a screenshot of each show’s first comprehensible moment. As usual, I am not going to watch every show. If it’s not to my taste, or is a sequel to a show I didn’t watch in the first place, I won’t write about it. So let’s get started.
Koisuru Asteroid starts with a flashback of a meeting between the main character the young Mira, and a boy named Ao who she meets on a camping trip. They decide to discover an asteroid and name it after Ao, but the two don’t see each other again until they enter high school. The astronomy club has been merged with the geology club, kind of bizarre if you ask me, and the club members don’t know what to make of it either. Anyway, turns out Ao’s in the club, and the boy is actually a girl. The awkwardness is juggled and tossed aside quickly, and by the end they’re best friends with Yuri overtones. Meanwhile, the club members try to figure out what the hell the geology people and the astronomy people can do together.
It’s a Cute Girls Doing Cute Rocks and Stars Things show. It’s too early to make a judgment; the show hasn’t told us if it’s going to be slice-of-life or whether they’re going to have a goal, like boosting the new club or actually finding a damn asteroid. I hope it’s not the former. As slice-of-life it was rather dull. The only thing that happens is that Ao becomes less taciturn and accepts Mira–something handled maybe too quickly, and then there are a lot of “Gee I’m so happy I get to see you again!” speeches from both girls. The others in the club have promise. Sakurai is a good, snarky VP, and Mira’s best friend Suzu has a perverted gleam in her eye, but if it all boils down to Mira and Ao being friends and gazing up at the heavens a lot then I’ll get tired of it quickly.
You know the basic premise of Magia Record: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica Gaiden so I won’t go into it here. To start, we have your average magical girl named Iroha, doing magical girl things, Shaft-style, with her friend Kuroe, who tells her she had a dream that several magical girls have had recently: go to Kamikama city and you can be saved. Meanwhile, Iroha’s trying to remember what her wish was–not even Kyubey knows, except it almost certainly has to do with her sister, whose side of their bedroom is now completely empty. Anyway, they wind up almost getting killed by a witch in Kamihama until another witch saves them and tells them to piss off back to where they came from. Kamihama has more witches and magical girls, and they’re unpleasant and territorial. There’s also a small Kyubey, bizarre imagery, and style blowing off the roof.
It looks excellent, but I wonder if the show can recreate the surprise and the impending dread that the first season carried off so well. There’s nothing to surprise us now, and nothing like Madoka’s decision to hang the story on, at least not yet. But does it matter? This episode is full of imaginative touches, warnings on train posters, signs with wishes printed on them, splendidly animated and threatening witches, and various odd moments which don’t make sense now but might later. In other words, the world of Madoka Magica is back like it never left, with all the good and horrible things that implies.
Speaking of style, we switch to ID-Invaded, where a brilliant detective named Sakaido wakes up in pieces in a world of pieces, all floating around. He manages to pull himself together, so to speak, and finds a murdered girl in another room. Sakaido proceeds to pull bits of the world together while observers, looking at the ID (a lot of wordplay going into that word), speculate and try to track down the whereabouts of a serial killer in the real world. So we have Sakaido and the observers working to solve a case from different perspectives. Sakaido meets other victims, a “family” living together, while two cops go out to locate the killer, which they do. Then one of the cops, the boyish Hondomachi, appears, in fragments, in Saikaido’s view, the ID, and everyone freaks out.
I could watch the second episode now, but I have to go to work, but it’s a good sign that I WANT to view the second episode. There’s a lot of weirdness literally floating around in this show but it’s told well. We see Sakaido getting his bearings in a “jigsawed” world and putting things together, a metaphor for solving a case I suppose. Things get a little less clear when we see the other cops because there are a lot of them and I lost track of the names and who does what. There’s also some weird gadgetry and the concept of the ID–is it the killer’s mind? How did they get into it in the first place? And is this fragmented world going to be used in all the cases, or are they going to introduce more tangible metaphors for each case. This case isn’t solved yet so it’s too early to tell. And why tennis players? I have a feeling I’m not going to understand a lot of what they fling at us, but still this is a good introduction to an offbeat detective series.
Speaking yet again of style, I watched Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na!, where we meet a young Asakusa Midori, who is moving to a new place and everything is an adventure. She keeps a series of adventure diaries where she draws detailed pictures of the neighborhood along with extra bits like secret hideouts and the like, and she then becomes transfixed by a certain anime series. Jump ahead to her her as a first year highschooler, still drawing but frustrated by her limited circumstances. She attends a school anime festival with her mercenary friend Kanamori and there sees another student being chased by two goons in black! An adventure! They help the girl escape and discover she is called Mizusaki, and is a model and daughter of a famous acting couple who forbid her to join the anime club, and is a good artist herself. She and Tsubame hit it off immediately, and suddenly we’re in a scene where they use their drawings to escape from the goons. And so a beautiful friendship is born, well, with Kanamori, who’s in it for the money, or so she says.
So, the latest Yuasa Masaaki work. I haven’t seen them all, but Ping Pong and what I saw of Kaiba were amazing, and so is this episode. The early bits, where the young Asukusa explores the town both in real life and in the drawings of her imagination, perfectly depict an excited child’s imagination, and it’s reflected in the later fantasy where the three girls escape from the goons in a insect machine that they designed themselves (the goons are actually Mizusaki’s bodyguards who keep an eye on her). When Asukasa drags her off to find a laundrimat Mizusaki’s delight in the colorful neighborhood reflect the joy we earlier saw in Asukura. And yes, it’s great to look at. The joy we see in both girls is balanced by Kanamori’s disinterest in anime, her desire for money at any cost, and obvious affection for Asakusa. So far it’s the best thing I’ve seen this season, but it’s early yet.
Somali to Mori no Kamisama brings us to a colorful, pastel forest where a scary golem walks around. But it’s okay. He’s the guardian of the place. One day he encounters a small girl with a chain around her neck who immediately calls him dad. Next thing you know, they’re on a journey to find other humans, which is going to be hard because there was a war between humans and this fantasy world’s citizens, and the humans were wiped out, taken as pets, and eaten. So the golem has not only to find humans, but keep Somali’s humanity secret, but to some of the magical creatures around, she smells so good! Worse, it seems the golem might be close to falling apart …
It looks great. The background art is colorful in a magical-world kind of way, almost overdone. The side characters are your typical mix of animals, mythical beasts, and humans you find in a fantasy world, and they’re not terribly interesting. Somali is cute as hell and causes trouble by being a small girl curious about everything and running into trouble. I might get tired of that real fast. But her curiosity is adorable, and it contrasts nicely with the golem with its seeming lack of emotions–considering the parental role he puts on with no complaint I wonder about that. So it looks like the goal is to reunite Somali with her own kind mixed in with the sadness of the golem slowly dying. “Bittersweet” is indeed the word. The overall tone is of prettiness and wonder, with the colors and the peaceful music, so there will probably not be much in the way of blood and gore here. Just … bittersweetness, if that’s a word.
Finally we have Murenase! Seton Gakuen, starring Jin, a first-year who hates animals. Why he enters a school full of anthropomorphized animals is not explained. Anyway, he scowls at all the animals making a ruckus around him, especially a wolf-girl named Ranka who takes a liking to him after he offers her some raw meat they serve at the cafeteria. She wants him to join her pack. He would rather hook up with the only other human in the school, the cute and sweet Hitomi, but Ranka keeps interfering. Turns out Ranka is a lone(ly) wolf who wants to be in a pack. The episode continues as they work this out, with hostility from a zebra girl and some kodiak bears, the school bullies. Oh, one of the teachers is a t-rex, but I am not going to chase the analogy here …
Not bad. They spend a little too much time on Ranka’s problems, but they’re setting up the situation here. What’s more, that I didn’t find Ranka very annoying is a good sign for the show. The setup is obvious by the end of the first episode: it’s a high school romcom using animals to comment on the types and stereotypes of HS romcoms, and maybe a love story, or maybe not. A lot of it is done cleverly, the gags are a bit obvious but are done well enough not to bother me. And it’s cute, at least, Ranka is. This is a “maybe” for me.