Let’s see … Skipping High School DxD HERO (sequel) and Rokuhoudou Yotsuiro Biyori (too many cute men, though the tea shop aspect had me briefly interested), so it’s time for Last Period – Owarinaki Rasen no Monogatari-. Where a kid named Haru, who is a “Period,” meaning he has some superpower or another, along with what’s left of his guild after someone steals all their money, go after “Spirals,” your typical nasty creatures. He’s joined by Liza, who also has a superpower I couldn’t figure out, and Campanella, who hits things with his sword, and whom I couldn’t figure out the gender for until later. Oh, also Choco, a laconic, white-haired thing who hangs out with Haru, though their relationship isn’t explained yet. They do a mission for Stingy Village, which lives up to its name, and encounter a team of rivals who call themselves “Wiseman,” who are much cooler than our heroes are, and get to do the ending credits.
I appreciate how this series skips all the backstory. Normally it would start off as Haru, seeking his fortune, coming to the city and meeting all the characters episode by episode. Here they’re already together. Sadly, none of our heroes interested me that much, though they each had moments. I liked Choco’s comments about the writing quality, and Liza had some good barbs as well. Alas, Haru is a total bore. As I mentioned, Wiseman were a lot more fun. They’ll probably do a face turn a few episodes down and become less so. I enjoyed the cynically capitalist attitude the show has, not only with Stingy village, where the mayor manages to hire two teams to defeat spirals, turn them on each other, and sell tickets for the big battle, but with people leaving Haru’s guild the moment they discover the money is gone. And some well-timed gags. I’ve seen better kids shows, but this one isn’t bad.
Stein’s Gate needs no introduction. The only questions for the 0 sequel is would I remember all the characters and exactly what happened, not to mention that I watched only the happy ending. However, it wasn’t hard to figure out the main difference–Kurisu is dead. Anyway, we watch a much more sober, serious, and less fun Rintaro as he goes about being normal, undergoing therapy and taking medication, while Mayuri keeps an eye on him, well, everyone is, really. Old friends (Daru, John Titor, er, Suzu, etc) are introduced, and we are gently reminded that this timeline is going to go straight to hell if Rintaro doesn’t do something, and he has no intention of messing with time again. He attends a conference and encounters a new regular (I’m assuming) character, Maho, and then is shocked out of his skull when a lecture brings up a theory by Kurisu. And I’m confused already, because while it’s a coincidence, it doesn’t change anything. She’s still dead …
Well, anyway, this is a good enough opening, and it dispels some of my fears. It looks and feels like the same world, even if they make some conscious changes to differentiate it: it’s Winter, not Summer, Rintaro wears black, not his white lab coat. Speaking or Rintaro, while his new behavior and desire to be normal are understandable (and his mental instability underneath is well-depicted), I can’t wait for him to bust out of his constraints and get back into “crazy mad scientist” mode, full of bluster and humanity, the thing that makes him one of my favorite male characters in anime. In fact, and again, it’s understandable, the episode feels understated, with only some comic antics from Daru and the girls. However, Maho looks to be a fun new character. She’ll fit right in. Of course I’m going to keep watching. This was, for me, the second-best series of 2011, the best single year of anime I have watched so far, and it looks like this season needs a heavy hitter.
Hisone to Masotan stars Hisone, a girl who considers herself a social pariah because she runs off at the mouth a lot, and chooses the Special Defense Forces as a career because she can’t think of anything else to do. She’s told to deliver a document to hanger 8, which doesn’t seem to exist, but with the help of a Yakult lady (Yakult ladies know everything) she finds it, and then a dragon appears and swallows her. Turns out the dragon is an “organic transforming flier,” (OTF), and since the dragon took such a shine to her, Hisone is transferred to hanger 8 to become a pilot. Her life gets steadily worse from there until the inevitable breakthrough moment comes, and she and the dragon are flying!
This was an excellent first episode, the best I’ve seen so far this season. There’s a light touch to everything about it, bright artwork, simplistic yet evocative character designs, and a witty, fast-paced script that jumps over unnecessary bits that would make it drag. Hisone’s tendency to speak her mind turns out to be as much a virtue as a curse, as her verbal outburst midway through said all the things about her situation that I wanted to say. The animation is surprisingly vivid for something that looks like it’s intended for children. It got a little more traditional, and tiresome, near the end while Hisone is learning how to fly the thing, but by that point I was having so much fun watching that I didn’t care too much. Okay! So maybe this season has TWO heavy hitters so far.
Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii stars (I think) Narumi, waking up late, rushing to get ready, doing everything but the toast bit, only she’s not in high school, she’s an office lady starting a new job today. When her cool senpai with big boobs Hanoko is showing her around they bump into a childhood friend of her, Hirotaka, who asks her if she’s doing anything for Comiket. Oh No! Her otaku secret is out, except no one else reacts. So our future lovebirds start hanging out at izakayas and insulting each other’s otaku tastes (she’s into yaoi, he’s a gamer). And it turns out that Hanoko is a famous yaoi cosplayer and they’ve admired each other for a while, and Tarou, the guy who’s going to wind up with Hanoko, well, we don’t get his proclivities yet.
Looks like a double-romantic series with no real speedbumps for either couple. Maybe because these are adults, not high school kids. Narumi keeps saying it would be weird to date an otaku like Hirotaka, but when he does a gamer-term confession to her she has absolutely no problem saying yes. It’s almost TOO smooth. Apart from that it comes off as a good, low-key romcom opening episode. The only thing that bugs me is I don’t care much for Narumi’s often shrill voice, though that’s a personal preference, and her mood swings come across nicely. Good basic first episode. We’ll see how it goes.
Next it’s Isekai Izakaya, where your average izakaya has a door that opens up on a fantasy land, which would be a cool, original idea except there was that show last year. Anyway, an off-duty palace guard is taken there by his coworker, and he marvels at the wondrous food served there, such as, this episode, potatoes in oden, with a bit of mustard on the side, oh, and edamame and beer. He goes nuts for all of them, and the chilled beer mugs, and for the cute, cheerful waitress.
I guess we’ll find out if it’s as entertaining as Isekai Shokudou. The palace guard guy was a total bore; guys like that remind me of the three guards in John Scalzi’s masterpiece fantasy Shadow War of the Night Dragons, but he’s sort of entry level, to get us accustomed to the situation. No other fantasy characters yet. The food is handled well, though I’m not really an oden fan. The waitress girl IS cute. The chef has no personality so far. It was about fifteen minutes of a guy swooning over oden, oh, and a real life chef guy at the end provides us with oden variations while a voice-over makes comments more entertaining than anything in the actual show.
Full Metal Panic returns with Invisible Victory. We start with Tessa visiting her parents’ graves, and Leonard showing up and telling her that his side, Amalgram, were going to get real serious now, forget those two other series. We then meet some asshole on Amalgram’s team who tells Leonard that he needs to get real serious. Then a visit to the high school where fan guy (forgot his name, and what the hell he does in the series) is about to graduate and gives Sousuke a heart-to-heart. Then Sousuke and Chidori walk to her place, where they might get real serious in a different way, only to find Leonard there. He warns them that Amalgram is about to get real serious. Sousuke calls Mithril to warn them, and then things get real serious, and we’ve got an escape scene coming next week.
I don’t remember FMP being so boring before. There was the original series, then the all-out fun of Fumoffu, and the much more serious but still entertaining Second Raid. This first episode just lays there. Boring dialogue, no life to anything. Even seeing old familiar characters didn’t give me the smile of recognition that another show might bring, though to be fair, it’s been so long that I’ve forgotten many of them. Chidori’s great fiery temper is nowhere to be seen, so Sousuke has no one to turn his deadly seriousness into comedy for him, so he comes off as dull. There’s a lot of CGI used here, so characters don’t have as life to them and we get weird camera swings for no reason. Maybe things will liven up next week, but I’m not counting on it.
There! Finished only a week behind!