In Akudama Drive we have a futuristic Kansai complete with dirigibles and gaudy lights in the cyberpunk style. A girl named, er, I don’t know, sees a guy on a motorbike drop a 500 yen coin who refuses to take it back. Then SHE’S arrested because she didn’t use the money to pay for her takoyaki. We then switch around and watch the bike guy and some other overly powered misfits, named for their specialties, as they are all challenged to free a prisoner named Cutthroat on the day of his execution. Things blow up and people die, all very stylishly, as the Akudama, as they are called, battle each other to rescue Cutthroat. The girl, trying to rescue a cat, is along for the ride, at times literally, as she gets caught on a battle-bot. More things blow up, more people are killed, and the girl’s cat speaks. I knew the cat was up to something …
First off, apart from some cgi issues involving the characters, it looks great, the action scenes are crazy and well done, and there’s a lots of surprises as the Akudama try to one-up their rivals to claim the big money. All that was enough to convince me to watch another episode. On the other hand, it often tries too hard to be edgy and stylish. I was reminded of Kekkai Sensen at times, with all the crazy action, but that show had a sense of joy to it that Akudama Drive lacks. Not to mention that BBB was funny and in Akudama Drive usually was not, possibly because of the gruesome and unneeded killing going on. Still, the positives outweigh the negatives, and I’m wondering just how the girl, the only normal character, is going to fit in with these deadly people.
Just about opposite of that is Adachi no Shimamura, about two girls who skip all their classes and hang out on the gym balcony playing ping-pong and talking about little things. Shimamura, the narrator at least for episode one, is a little more socially adjusted and has a couple of friends, who pop in to spice up the situation from time to time. Adachi is shy and withdrawn, and we wonder what’s going on in her head. This is building up to a romance, or maybe they’re already in one. Hard to tell with these Yuri shows.
It’s all very nice, exchanging small talk while gently tapping ping-pong balls to each other, not trying to win anything, but letting the other receive the shot and return it, until the game becomes a metaphor and they show balls bouncing in scenes even when they’re walking down the street. But there’s more silence than talking, apart from the tinkling piano music, and Shimamura’s interior monologue about nothing much, falling into water and sinking, representing her feelings. In short, nothing much happens at all. These girls are complex and somewhat troubled, neither of them attend many classes, or any, and they’re feeling their way through this obvious attraction they have. But it’s also static. If the show is going to be a season of ping-pong and Shimamura mulling over things I’m not sure I’ll have the patience for it. But it’s a quiet, gentle show, and it might be worth watching just for that reason.
Well look who’s back! Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka? Bloom is season 3 and it gets right to work. First, the girls try on new looks because it’s too hot for their regular uniforms, which leads them to hunt for fabrics and we meet most of the side characters along the way. Cocoa and Chino get heat exhaustion, and Rize gets it too after she has to carry them around. After that there’s a flea market where the girls sell off some of the weird stuff they’ve accumulated, included gun-toting stuffed bears and a weird mechanical rabbit which even the girl they gift it to calls “weird.” As a running gag we have a magic cane which punches two of the girls in the stomach. And there’s chilled coffee, though no one explains what makes it different from iced coffee.
I’ve said before that the best CGDCT shows are a little weird, and Is the Order a Rabbit? has it percolating (get it?) just under the surface. That said, this episode was meant to reintroduce us to the characters so it feels a little subdued, but I have no doubt things will be as good as the first two seasons. One surprise is that Tippy is openly talking to the girls. I don’t remember that happening before. I also hope that Chiya will start naming her concoctions again, like the dessert “Dragon landing in sleet.” She didn’t do it at all in the second season, to my disappointment. Well, even if she doesn’t I look forward to a pleasant hour every week watching the girls doing too much coffee.
Kamisama ni Natta hi is the latest Key/PA works collaboration, so it’s a tossup if it’s going to be any good. Let’s see. Your average high school senior Yota is playing basketball in the park when a girl in a “nun cosplay” outfit shows up, declares herself to be Odin (that’s two Odins in one season), and that the world is going to end in 30 days, and could she try making a basketball shot, please? Yota humors her while wondering how to get this lost girl home, until she actually shows some prescience, predicting who will win the horse races, that it will rain, they will overtake the bus, etc. Yota asks her to help him win the heart of his beloved childhood friend, the cold and aloof Izanami, and her brilliant plan … fails. And now he has to take her home to meet the parents.
As I recall, many Key series start out manic and then get maudlin. This episode has the manic part down–Odin has enough energy to carry that on her own. That is not to say that we absolutely will get the maudlin later, but it’s something to worry about. I guess the story is all about stopping the end of the world, though Odin (Sato?) seems to think it’s a done deal. However, she doesn’t predict everything correctly so maybe there’s a chance. Anyway, the manic ep1 was entertaining enough. Yota’s a little dull, but as I said, Odin or whatever her name really is has enough energy to make up for it. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
In Ochikobore Fruit Tart we meet Ino, who’s arrived in Tokyo to become an idol. She is brought to her new home, a dorm called the Mouse House (the company is called Rat Production, you see), where she meets three struggling young performers, former child actor Roko, musician Hayo, and the sexy but shy model Nina, and their manager (unnamed) who announces they’ll be forming an idol group and do a 5-minute documentary of their lives as struggling performers every week. Episode one: handing out supermarket flyers. We watch them interact, well, rather, we see Roko be grumpy a lot.
Not bad for what it is. I’m curious about the format. It seems to be both a gag show and a “rise to fame” series. How are they going to work those two things together? As for the gags, I didn’t really laugh at any. The best character is the savvy manager with her scheming and her realistic take on the entertainment industry (“Nothing beats boobs!”), but she’s not really the focus on the show. Roko’s pouting and general grumpiness was amusing. The heroine, Ino, doesn’t have much beyond her bubbly personality. The other two were just gag fodder this week. There are also moments of fanservice but they’re generally played for laughs, well, until the ED. It’s all very cute and the energy level was pretty good. I don’t know if I’ll remember the show next week, though.