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Winter 2017 shows 4

January 17, 2017 Leave a comment
kemonofriendsbeg

Savannah.

First we have Kemono Friends, well, actually, we don’t, because the whole thing was so inept I could barely watch ten minutes of it. A dull, plodding episode where a serval-girl leads a lost girl-girl to the exit of the Savannah, with some of the worst CGI I’ve seen in a long time. Next show, please …

Blue skies to open a show about Italian food.

Blue skies to open a show about Italian food.

Then a short–not as many shorts these days it seems–called Place–Watashi no Italian, about a girl named Morina who wants to get a part-time job over the summer break, and look, there just happens to be a help wanted sign on her way home. At the Italian restaurant she is first scolded by a kid for not knowing Italian, then hired by an adult named Ruri. She tastes some of the former’s food and likes it.

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If this show is going to be about Italian food and not so much about the characters, I’ll keep watching. Well, I shouldn’t say that. We only meet a couple of characters this week. The introduction of more might liven things up.

Whenever I see this disclaimer, I get suspicious about the quality of the show.

Whenever I see this disclaimer, I get suspicious about the quality of the show.

Next it’s Chaos;Child, by the people who brought us Chaos;Head (bad), Steins;Gate (great), and Robotics;Notes (right in the middle). C;C gets on my nerves immediately by being a 48-minute episode, meaning I have to put off the shows following it. Shows with long opening episodes seem to want to impress us, but never justify the length. But I try to watch with an open mind. The first half is mainly flashback to C;H, except with maybe a more unfortunate ending, I don’t remember it too well. But I do remember that the kid worked out of a container on the roof, he got visited by weird girls a lot, and that guy in the wheelchair, there were lots of grisly murders, and the boy had to wear those ugly school pants all the time. Anyway, it led to a dark, violent ending in Shibuya that I don’t remember.

Well, yeah, that's certainly a possible cause of death.

Well, that’s certainly possible.

The second half is six years later and instead of a shut-in we got the more socialized Takuru, investigating a new series of murders that parallel the old ones, though realizes it except the girl Onoe. Once Takuru gets the message he and Onoe happily go to Shibuya to look for the next one–and find it. OR rather, Onoe finds it. She also managed to hide the vid file Takuru took from the police. She’s way too savvy for such an airhead. Anyway, there was a blond girl at the murder scene called Hinae, who just happens to go to Takuru’s school. At which point I threw up my hands. I might watch episode if the buzz is good about this one, but right now it’s just a series of things we’ve seen in other shows. Murders, cute girls, mysterious images of some fat guy, like the Stand-alone complex images. Okay, maybe I’m still pissed that episode one was so long, so maybe I’ll try another episode next week.

A forest in the mountains where a huge dragon is about to appear.

A forest in the mountains where a huge dragon is about to appear.

Next is decent palate cleanser: Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon, where a programmer lady named Kobayashi steps out of her apartment one morning to find a huge dragon waiting for her. Something about a drunken promise the night before about letting the dragon, who transforms into a cute, big-boobed humanoid maid girl (named Tohru) stay with her. There follows a fish out of water episode one, and I don’t like those, but at least they jump from one embarrassing moment to the next quickly. Things perk up a bit when Kobayashi goes drinking with a work buddy and Tohru tags along, but like most slapstick comedies like this one, we’ll have to wait for more characters to show up before passing judgment.

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And when she says HER roasted tail, she means it.

It doesn’t look like your average Kyoto Animation show, mainly because of the simpler, sketchy art and character designs. Combine that with Kobayashi’s seiyuu (Tamura Mutsumi) and I was actually reminded of Kill Me Baby. Seriously. But we see KyoAni in the quick camera jumps, used nicely for reaction shots here, and their work with the dragon in flight. Still, it looks like a modest show for the most technically accomplished TV animation studio around. It will be interesting to see what they do with the material, which, frankly, didn’t impress me much.

Apparently, to watch KonoSuba you have to log in.

Apparently, to watch KonoSuba 2 you have to log in.

… Fallen behind again. Sorry. Next is Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2, the only sequel I’ll be watching this season. It doesn’t waste any time. Kazuma has been thrown in jail for hanging out with the Demon King’s army, or at least one of them (Wiz). A couple silly attempts to rescue him and a humiliating interrogation scene later and it’s time for the trial, which serves to reintroduce us to some of the side characters and previous victims. At the end they’re more or less where they started the series, but at least the kingdom didn’t confiscate their house as well, only their belongings.

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A strong start. The arrest scene quickly reminded me why I liked this show so much in the first place. Aqua, Megumin, and Darkness rush to defend Kazuma and only make it worse, sentences overlapping, while Kazuma adds snarky comments and mimics their “gahs” and other grunts. This batch of seiyuu make a great team, and starting the episode with them at full throttle was a good decision. It slows down a little after that. The rescue attempts were salvaged by Aqua’s bumbling. The interrogation was pretty good. I still don’t why the true/false bell didn’t go off again at the end, but I don’t watch this show expecting it to make much sense. Looking forward to another batch of misadventures.

Knowing this is important, because we flash back before long.

Knowing this is important, because we flash back before long.

The last show I intend to try is Kuzu no Honkai, or Scum’s Wish, where we meet Hana, a high school with a crush on onii-san, actually a close friend of the family who is her homeroom teacher! Lucky Hana! But she spends the entire episode moping because onii-san has a crush on Minagawa sensei. To further complicate matters, Minagawa is the crush-object for Hana’s classmate Mugi, friend of his family, same deal. So the two kids spend a lot of time moping together, even attempting sex (until interrupted by onii-san’s text), and finally deciding they’ll pretend to be a couple while they pursue their individual, absolutely hopeless crushes.

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Mugi is the guy kissing her.

It’s heavy on atmosphere, shoujo visual bits like close-ups in frames and the like. Also heavy on melancholy and grumpiness. Hana says early on that unrequited love isn’t nearly as wonderful as stories would have it, and she’s absolutely right. Incisive comments like that helped me warm up to a character that can be hard to like, a mopey, occasionally unpleasant adolescent girl. Well, having it all told by her point of view helps, too. Mugi, the boy, isn’t much better. Two kids having no fun in life, and it produced the unhappiest sex scene I can remember, both people pretending their partner is their true object of desire. On the other hand, it’s all very well done, with nice understated art and music, and it has made me curious as to where the show can take these two kids with their doomed crushes.

That does it for this season’s new shows. Next I will decide what to keep watching, and go back to writing about them here.

Winter 2017 shows 2

January 10, 2017 Leave a comment
Fuuka begins with a train station and odd lighting.

Fuuka begins with a train station and odd lighting.

The next show, Fuuka, already has two episodes out. Nevertheless I’m not going to watch the second until I take care of my future backlog of episode ones. In it we have a boy named Yuu who has transferred to the big city to live with his occasionally nudist sisters while their parents are away. He lives on Twitter and takes the occasional picture, and a blue-haired girl we later discover to be the titular character, smacks him around because she thinks he’s taking upskirt photos. The next day, visiting his new school, the exact same thing happens. A few scenes and some backstory later and they’re going on a date because Fuuka wants to hear the theme song by an idol who is Yuu’s childhood friend and he somehow has tickets. I bet you can guess where this is heading.

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Episode one feels like a nice, improbable high school love story, lighter on the comedy, probably heavy on the angst later on. Not crazy about love stories myself but I’ve heard good things about this one. Yuu is your typical boring male lead, Fuuka is the nutty, passionate, violent girl of every boring male lead’s dreams. She also has a loud voice, so you know she’s going to form a band (besides, we see that in the credits, unless it’s just symbolic of something). I very much like the work the seiyuu “Lynn” did with her voice, at least in episode one. What bothered me the most was the standard building-up-to-romance scenes, and the bit with Hachiko was excruciating, but they’ve got to set up basic things before the show can press on, first episode issues, forgivable.

Not sure why Minami Kamakura opens with a night scene ...

Not sure why Minami Kamakura opens with a night scene …

Minami Kamakura Koukou Joshi Jitensha Bu stars Hiromi, who’s just moved to Kamakura and starts school that morning. She’s taking her bike though she hasn’t ridden one in years and has completely forgotten how. She crashes into her soon BFF Tomoe, who gives her riding lessons, meets their cyclist homeroom teacher, also new there, goes through the opening ceremonies, and ogles a lot of scenery.

Hiromi is about to meet Tomoe.

Hiromi is about to meet Tomoe.

As do we. When they’re not overdoing the CGI or over-saturating to get the mood right the visuals look fantastic. Really too much so. I know they were going for a joyful first day of school with cherry blossoms everywhere feel, but they could have turned it down a notch and I’d still be gasping. Well, they’ve made their point, and the gorgeous images with the breezy music tells you what to expect. What I really didn’t like was Hiromi, a blithering idiot who doesn’t even know you use petals to move a bicycle. This would be okay for a more comedic show, but kind of ruins the atmosphere here. Well, when she finally learns how to ride a bicycle maybe things will settle down.

That's actually another dimension.  That's why it's so grey.

That’s actually another dimension. That’s why it’s so grey.

Schoolgirl Strikers Animation Channel begins with four girls chasing after an O’bli, a ridiculous looking thing that I hope the show drops soon. It slips away, so we have a shower scene instead, then the hijinks of Yuumi, one of the four girls, and her obsession with school mysteries. There’s more hijinks you’d expect in a cute girls doing cute things show, but their phones go off and soon it’s back to some other dimension or other and another O’bli, which again gives our girls trouble until a veteran squad comes to polish it off. Apparently the more experienced a squad is, the less clothing they wear.

The dumbest line I've heard this week.

The dumbest line I’ve heard this week.

It’s not great but not terribly bad either. The contrast between alien fighting and ordinary schoolgirl life was a bit strange, but otherwise they fill us in on the situation in a way that feels natural–we learn a lot and there’s only one clumsy infodump. Some of it is absurd. How could the school hide the fact that its real job is to train “strikers?” And I’ve already mentioned how dumb the invaders look. On the good side, they’ve started work on the characters. I’m most interested right now in Tsubame, the squad leader who possibly feels unfit for the job, and she has other issues as well, like amnesia. This might not be a very good show, but the fact that didn’t botch the first episode is a promising sign.

Demi-chan begins with a nice bright town at night.

Demi-chan begins with a nice bright town at night.

Let’s see … skipping the next few on the RC list for being sequels or BL. That brings us to Demi-chan wa Kataritai, where Takahashi, a biology teacher who’s always wanted to meet and interview a demi-human, ie, a succubus or vampire or dullahan or snow girl, people who are around but are a tiny minority. Oh the surprise when he meets one of each type on the same day! Okay, that bad plot bit aside, we continue as he sort of meets most of them to varying degrees. Sakie the succubus teacher finds his curiosity a little rude. Hikari the vampire is open, friendly, and a little mischievous. Machi the Dullahan tries to interact but finds most people are uncomfortable with her, with the head not attached to the body and all. We don’t really get much of the snow girl in episode one. No problem, we’ll get to her eventually.

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There are several reasons why I loved this first episode. Let’s start with Takahashi. He’s a normal, decent, open-minded, big lunk, suddenly confronted with people that society considers strange. We watch as he tries to learn more about them, risking and accidentally giving offense along the way, apologizing when he should, trying to learn. Junichi Suwabe (Itami in Gate) gives him just the right balance between maturity and wonder. Then consider Hikari, wonderfully voiced by Kaede Hondo, yes, a vampire, but also a young, friendly, lively schoolgirl. Now, put the two together in the same room: a delight, Hondo’s irrepressible youth and playfulness dancing around Suwabe’s experienced, mature comments. They talk together a lot in episode one and I wanted more.

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Along the way the show skewers some cliches (Yeah, a stake in the heart would kill me, too) and describes how these Demis co-exist with “normal” people. It raises questions: how do we meet someone that is fundamentally foreign to us, when we might accidentally give offense by asking the wrong way? How do you not hurt the foreigner when we don’t know how to react to their differences? Then there is the matter of what the foreigner needs to do to cope, while not alienating the so-called “normal” person.  This show is already working with these questions, and there is potential for more. Put that together with the terrific characters Takahashi and Hikari and I am looking forward to episode two.

A map of the continent of, er, Yggdra.

A map of the continent of, er, Yggdra.

Chain Chronicle first gives us an assault on a fortress and the Black King. It’s lead by Yuri with the support of a lot of your average magical types, and a little sprite thing called Pirika that gets smushed. Indeed, the whole assault fails and the King announces everything shall fall into darkness. The battle is pretty good, though I had a hard time telling the good guys and the bad guys apart. But that’s the first ten minutes, and the remainder of the episode shows the alliance breaking up and soldiers going home and Yuri mentally scarred by the whole thing. Then as they’re trudging home, they encounter an evil black fog and a kid named Aram that helps them fight it off, either by inspiration or by replenishing mana. Yeah, apparently it’s based on a game.

Yuri and Aram meet during a battle.

Aram and Yuri meet during a battle.

Nothing stood out for me at all. Since we don’t know the backstory I can’t really empathize with anyone. And then consider that after the good battle scenes, the majority of the episode is showing the good guys skulking away. Aram, who is supposed to be a spark of light for them, just annoyed me. I suppose I’m interested in how Yuri, now in a sort of disgrace, will redeem himself, but that’s about it. I probably won’t watch another episode, and that’s a little unfair, I know. It’s a clumsy first episode at times, but I’ve seen worse. It isn’t bad, and I can’t get the whole epic story much less all the damn characters all at once, but I don’t see anything special here. Maybe I’ll watch ep2, probably not.

Two super-powered police girls are about to swoop past this moon.

Two super-powered police girls are about to swoop past this moon.

And finally for now, elDLIVE, starring Chuuta, a nice kid who’s heard a voice in his head all his life. He hasn’t learned to ignore it or not respond, so all the other kids think he’s weird, nice but weird. We meet various friends and relatives until he’s whisked away to a space station and is told he’ll become part of the Space Police if he passes a test, which he does when his voice takes on physical form and sticks itself out of his chest.

Chuuta's first mission.

Chuuta’s first mission.

Apart from Chuuta’s occasional adolescent longings (and a hilarious look at classmate/policegirl Misuzu’s legs, oh, and that teacher) this is very much a kids show. It’s bright, the aliens are cartoonish, apart from a crescent moon creature called, heh, Melies. The “voice” when it takes on physical form, is so cute I can’t stand him, or her. It’s also self-aware and occasionally funny; I enjoyed the most Captain Brick Laine’s cavalier attitude toward things, and his name is pretty good too. But it looks like it’s going be comic SF romps on Earth or in orbit around it. Where is it going to go? They’ve already explained the voice in Chuuta’s head. Apart from that bad flashback he sometimes has there’s nothing more the show can do apart from warming Misuzu’s heart toward Chuuta. Well, if they can keep up the humor it might not matter.

Winter 2017 shows 1

January 7, 2017 3 comments

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 begins with stripes

Ai Mai Mi begins with stripes

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, by this time I was wondering the same thing.

Yeah, by this time I was wondering the same thing.

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.

Akiba's Trip begins with the sinister skies above Akihabara.

Akiba’s Trip begins with the sinister skies above Akihabara.

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.

Tamotsu gets new powers and becomes much cooler.

Tamotsu gets new powers and becomes much cooler.

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.

Makabe's house to begin Revenge.

Makabe’s house to begin Masamune-kun no Revenge.

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.

Makabe and Aki size each other up.

Makabe and Aki size each other up.

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 begins with nice birdies.

Urara Meirochou begins with nice birdies.

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.”

That is not the proper way to use tarot cards.

That is not the proper way to use tarot cards.

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 wastes no time presenting us Shouichi, our hero.

Seiren wastes no time presenting us Shouichi, our hero.

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?

Tsuneki, right, and other cute girls we might get to later, have some fun at Shouichi's expense.

Tsuneki, right, and other cute girls we might get to later, have some fun at Shouichi’s expense.

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.

Youjo Senki starts appropriately with something blowing up, probably people.

Youjo Senki starts appropriately with something blowing up, probably people.

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 …

Tanya beheads someone and seems to like it.

Tanya beheads someone and seems to like it.

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.

Abbreviated new shows Fall 2016 3

October 18, 2016 Leave a comment
Girlish Number starts with a shot of subway stairs.

Girlish Number starts with a shot of subway stairs.

I went into Girlish Number expecting cute girls doing seiyuu things, but was taken aback. We start at an anime live event where the girls say sparkling things into the microphones and snarky things to each other, and we meet newbie Chitose, whose been getting bit parts for a year and has a bit of a half-assed attitude toward it all, beginning to realize, as almost everyone says this episode, that there’s something wrong with the industry. The head snarkers is an actress who thinks she’s above it all and whose name I didn’t catch, and, er, Momoka, a young blond thing who hasn’t learned how not to be insulting and really doesn’t care. Chitose comes to like her, for now. Anyway, Chitose’s picked pretty much at random to star in a series, and whatever qualms she has is overcome by greed and ego, Gahahaha!

She doesn't really mean it.

She doesn’t really mean it.

It’s a good first episode. We watch as Chitose watches and hears all these veterans say cynical things and wonders what her job as seiyuu really means anymore. Is it to do voices, to wear skimpy, frilly costumes and sing for fanboys? At the same time, she is a little lazy and selfish, led by the same base desires everyone has, which makes her more entertaining to watch than a “happier” show could give us. Don’t know if I want to put up with all the bitchy rivalries the show is promising us, but hopefully they’ll even things out somehow. A definite maybe.

Drifters … not in the mood, so no.
Lostorage incited WIXOSS–I watched the first two seasons and the whole thing just got messier, in spite of how good it sometimes looked, so going to skip this new season.
Haikyuu!! Karasuno Koukou VS Shiratorizawa Gakuen Koukou … Didn’t watch the first two seasons, so it may be sacrilege, but I’m going to skip this one too.
Ajin 2, never watched 1, so no.

ClassicLoids begins with gyoza being made and the 9th Symphony.

ClassicLoids begins with gyoza being made and the 9th Symphony.

ClassicLoids … Why not? … So after a very confusing opening sequence with burnt gyoza and other things, we meet Kanae, a schoolgirl and apparent owner of a lovely old mansion with lots of cool things in it, but she can’t pay the bills so, to her immense regret, she’s going to tear it down, in spite of the two freeloaders living there, Beethoven and Mozart. Then, before the wrecking ball can strike, a series of events occurs involving the mansion’s old organ and more ruined gyoza, and suddenly Beethoven has superpowers, and, er Kanae has a nice experience and the wreckers go away.

Beethoven conducts while Mozart-bot (pink) dances with a wrecking ball.

Beethoven conducts while Mozart-bot (pink) dances with a wrecking ball.

I would love to like this show more. It’s got composers with superpowers! But much of it is a mess. Beethes and Mothes are more annoying than anything, and Kanae’s understandable exasperation with them makes HER annoying (well, she gives off unfriendly vibes anyway. Maybe it’s the situation). Then there’s that other guy. Yeah, the super-Beethoven bit was nice, even though the aftermath was unexplained (are the wreckers going to try again?), and I like how Bach, in his brief appearance, was shown to be a complete badass. But the reality of the situation doesn’t mesh well with the surreal moments. Don’t know if I’ll keep watching.

There's a cherry blossom petal there somewhere.

There’s a cherry blossom petal there somewhere.

I was going to skip Long Riders! but someone said they thought I’d like it, with all the cute girls and all. So I watched Ami, college freshman, though she could be in high school for all it matters, wondering what club to join when she sees a girl ride a cute little folding bike, and Ami falls in love, with the bike, not the girl. Her friend Aoi shows her bike shops, she finds a cute bike, and then nearly kills herself from exhaustion on her first ride, whereupon she meets two new friends, and so on … Ami reminds me of Yui from K-ON!, with her bike as Gitah. Aoi would be Mio, then. Don’t know about the other girls.

Ami hits the wall.

Ami hits the wall.

Pretty boring, and a little sloppy. Ami is set up as a klutz so you figure she’ll fall off a lot, but she doesn’t. Don’t know why they decided to give her that trait if they’re not going to use it. Her sudden desire to ride bikes was clumsily dealt with–she’s always wanted to, but … , no, that bit wasn’t set up well at all. Neither was her sudden and deep passion for the sport. Meanwhile, Aoi plays the straight man and gives advice and is a little dull. The future friends don’t have much personality either. Finally, the pacing felt draggy and lazy. Not convinced by this episode at all.

Boodivores … not in the mood for vampires, sorry.
3-Gatsu no Lion … Shogi? No. Even if it’s a shaft show.

I'm sure they'll explain the opening to Occultic;Nine one day.

I’m sure they’ll explain the opening to Occultic;Nine one day.

Wasn’t expecting much from Occultic;Nine and almost didn’t watch it (for those of you who say it’s the same company that did Steins;Gate, I’ll remind you that it’s also the came company that did Chaos;Head). Anyway, we start, er, oh, yeah, an underwater motiv, leading to a series of fast quick-cutting scenes introducing us to the nine people of the title, but mostly Gamon, NEET para or anti-parapsychology-addled NEET and his crazy friend Ryouka, I think (the nicknames fly so fast between these two I’m not sure what to call them). All nine of them either investigate or are involved with the supernatural, and few of them have met yet, though Miyuu the psychic meets Gamon before the episode ends, and he also meets a corpse of someone just about everyone talks about in the episode more than once.

Gamon turns on the charm.

Gamon turns on the charm.

Hell of a lot of fun if you can keep up. It jumps around from scene to scene and camera angle to camera angle that there’s barely any opportunity to read the subtitles. Plus, the story, the connections between all these people, are given quick little dollops that I’m sure will add up to something if I manage to keep track of everything, but I wind up trying to make connections anyway (did that scalp that Aria found in her mailbox from the dead guy? Probably, but why?). Even I don’t, it’s still fun. The characters are all interesting, even if Gamon/Ryoka get a little overwhelming. I also like how the strange stuff is handled, like Ryoka’s ray-gun and Aria’s ghost-buddy. It’s not about discovering spirits or bizarre alien tech–it’s already there, dancing around the characters. Will definitely TRY to see more of this.

Sengoku Choujuu Giga … tempting, but no.
Udon no Kuni no iniro Kemari … The setting is tempting, but I don’t want to watch a guy meeting cute kid story.
Fune wo Amu … noitaminA show, slice of life, any other season, yes, but not this season.

So there you have it. I hope that by the winter season I’ll have more time to watch and write, and I’ll try to add a post or two over the next three months,but very often. Sorry.

Abbreviated new shows Fall 2016 2

October 11, 2016 2 comments

The last installment had me considering a lot of shows and saying “no” a lot. This time we’ll begin with …

Natsume Yuujinchou looks good as usual.

Natsume Yuujinchou looks good as usual.

Natsume Yuujinchou Go … YES! YES! YES! Instant approval! I will watch this series no matter what! After some usual re-intro scenes and a bit of mystery, Natsume meets a girl in a pot who starts demanding her treasure back. Reika, naturally, stole it. Turns out to be a doll. Natsume finds it, discarded and dirty, and the pot-girl rejects it and gets threatening. But thanks to flashbacks brought to him by another youkai who met Reika long ago, he discovers that pot-girl actually stole it first. Nonetheless, she gets it back, and everyone is happy. This brief synopsis does not do the episode justice.

Natsume!  Nyanko-Sensei!  Welcome back!  Great to see you!

Natsume! Nyanko-Sensei! Welcome back! Great to see you!

Just like Random Curiosity, I was a little worried that this fifth series of the franchise might not have anything more to say, but episode one is great. It works in Reika’s loneliness and need for love subtly with her leaving the now-unwanted doll for someone who can take care of it (unlike her, though the story doesn’t say it out loud), and mentions a man she had a child out of wedlock with. This season might give Reika, and Natsume’s curiosity about her, more time, and it’s a good angle to take. Though Reika is an important character, and actually appears from time to time, we know very little about her. As for the rest of the episode, it has the same look and feel, even some of the same music as before, and Nyanko-Sensei is in fine form. Happy that the show is back!

Stella no Mahou has a pretty opening image, too.

Stella no Mahou has a pretty opening image, too.

Then I doubled back and found Stella no Mahou, because it looks light and silly enough to get me through a season. And that’s how it turned out. Tamaki is out of the country and joining a high school in town, one that is big on clubs. She doesn’t really know what she wants to do, though. She’s tempted by the tea ceremony club, her friend Yumi joins the illustration club … Meanwhile girls at a doujin game club have set up a booth and are warming up their expected cute-odd traits for the new girls. Tama and Yumi check out their game, leave, and Tama returns to join, meeting the other members. All pretty much as expected.

Perhaps not the best way to lure in new club members.

Perhaps not the best way to lure in new club members.

It’s more subdued than I expected, more nice. Not so crazy. In fact, a little dull. The only character that seems to display any interesting emotions at all this episode is Shiina, the programmer, and even that’s in a monotone. I’m a little intrigued with the setup. They want to make a new game this year but the girl who inspired, organized, and led them last year has graduated, and they’re rudderless. Also, I like shows where they make things, so there’s that. And I wonder how Tama’s completely different art style will fit into a club where they make games called “Tearmint Tearstars.” Probably not enough to keep watching, however.

Chidora's hair whipping through a blood-red moon.  The actual show isn't nearly as dramatic.

Chidora’s hair whipping through a blood-red moon. The actual show isn’t nearly as dramatic.

Another earlier show, Nobunaga no Shinobi, where a girl named Chidora swears she will become a servant of you-know-who, because she saved her once. She says goodbye to her family, whom she may have to kill later depending on her orders, and is accompanied by her would-be boyfriend, Sukezo, and they join the Nobunaga team.

Chidori re-introduces her to Oda Nobunaga.

Chidori re-introduces her to Oda Nobunaga.

Five minute show, or thereabouts, and a long OP. The gags are okay–I like the kill you while you poop bit. Chidora is cute. I learned a bit about shinobi. In my “Nothing too deep” mindset for this season this might work.

Moving on, Nanbaka‘s promo-image hurts my head to look at, so no … Soushin Shoujo Matoi, started it. Didn’t look so great, so stopped it.

You don't need to tell us what we're going to watch, you know.

You don’t need to tell us what we’re going to watch, you know.

Hibike! Euphonium has a new season, and it looks heavy duty. We start with the triumphant victory at the regionals and things go downhill from there; I suppose they couldn’t go up. Everyone buckles down for the next competition and we’re sort of introduced to Mizore, an oboe player who’s friends with Reina, though you’d think the show would have mentioned that last season, or I forgot. Since Mizore’s even more laconic than Reina I don’t know what we’re going to get out of her, well, in the second half, we do, as we see her getting sick over the sound of a flute player, Nozomi, one of last year’s quitters who desperately wants back in. Everyone involved in that spat is against it, but she seems okay to Kumiko, and so the adolescent dramas begin …

One episode in and our heroines already look worried.

One episode in and our heroines already look worried.

Wow, a double-length episode of this stuff was nearly too much for me. KyoAni’s attention to detail means subtle moments go by that you’ll miss if you blink. Also, we have remember who all these people are again, and I was getting some of them mixed up. And I’ve forgotten some of the situations from last year. All this makes me wonder if the new season, in my different situation, would get the justice it deserves if I try to write about it, and to make it clear, this show deserves consideration. The episode was excellent, more of the same, tight editing and story with the usual drop-dead gorgeous KyoAni art and animation. I suppose I don’t need to tell you that.

Moving on, Bungou Stray Dogs new season, which I would normally watch, but not this season, sorry, no. Brave Witches–I didn’t even watch Strike Witches, so no … Yuri!!! on ICE, er, no …

Shh!  Kokona's taking a test.

Shh! Kokona’s taking a test.

Why not Flip Flappers, you say? Okay … What we got is a orange haired girl named Papika, with super powers, or at least a flying surfboard, running off for reasons unknown, and then we switch to normal middle schooler named Kokona, having trouble deciding where to go to high school. For reasons unknown (there are lot of reasons unknown in this episode) she walks into a part of a forest where people don’t go, where Papika spots her and drags her off to the land of “Pure Illusion,” with sweet tasting snow and giant white heaps that nearly crush them before they roll into the sea, taking Kokona’s glasses, and Papika, along with them, until it’s transformation time for Kokona! Later they go back to reality only to be captured by robots.

This is all too much for Kokona, but Papika doesn't seem to mind it.

This is all too much for Kokona, but Papika doesn’t seem to mind it.

The early scenes, with Kokona going about her routine while Papika spies on her, are charming and funny. It’s uses a lot of color and turns it off for extra effect. But when they go through the rabbit hole and reach Pure Illusion it loses part of its fun. You begin to worry about poor Kokona, not so much about Papika, who perhaps is too stupid to get worried. And the wonders of Pure Illusion get boring after a while; you want them to get to the point. But through it all it’s great to look at, graceful and fluid. A good start, could have been a great one, but good enough that I’ll keep it in mind for the future.

Keijo!!!!!!!!, about girls wrestling with their boobs and butts, no … All out!!, I tend not to watch sports anime, so no … Watashi ga Motete Dou Sunda, male harem show, no … TO BE CONTINUED …

Abbreviated new shows fall 2016 1

October 4, 2016 Leave a comment

With my schedule being what it is I don’t have the time to look at as many new shows, let alone follow them. so I’m afraid that this season I will be a lot more picky about what I’ll watch and skip shows I would normally take a look at. Sorry about that. As usual I’ll follow with the order given on the Random Curiosity preview page, and I’ll start with the first coherent image from each episode one.  Here we go …

I got bogged down in the first season of Bubuki Buranki, so I’ll skip this new one.

Shuumatsu no Izetta starts with little floaty things that will be important later.

Shuumatsu no Izetta starts with little floaty things that will be important later.

Which takes us to Shuumatsu no Izetta, where we see a girl named Fine chasing around the woods with her dog until she discovers floating glowing things which leads to a redhead floating there. Jump to 1939 and Germania invading everybody, and threatening the tiny country of Eylstadt (Austria, or part of it) where Fine is princess. She’s on a train to a neutral country (Switzerland) to meet with a rep from Britannica (you know) to agree to marry their prince if Britannica helps out Eylstadt in the war. Oh, Germania soldiers and some sinister officers are chasing them around in a train for a while. She’s captured eventually, and, wouldn’t you know it, winds up on the same plane as the top secret thingy where guess who is kept in cold storage. It’s a happy meeting, things blow up, and so WW Whatever gets a little crazier.

Hell of a way to meet an old friend.

Hell of a way to meet an old friend.

Not bad, a little darker than the promo picture with the redhead floating on a bazooka would suggest. Fine has two subjects watching over her, they act like they’re going to be regulars, but they’re both killed. Fine reminded me of Chiko from Daughter of Twenty Faces, brave and resourceful. Too soon to tell about the witch yet. There’s a hint of yuri about between the two girls as well. On the other hand, the whole rewriting of WWII is simplistic and you can be sure, as dark as the show might get, that the atrocities of that war will mostly be left out. They’re just using the war as a framework to tell their story. Also, I didn’t care for how the show ogled Fine in the shower. So some good and bad. But in my current state I won’t watch any more.

It's always old in the Working world.

It’s always cold in the Working! world.

Working! was okay, Working!! was excellent, didn’t finish the third one, and now we got WWW.Working!, based on the webcomic. We meet Daisuke, the new kid at Wagnaria, where he works because his dad went bankrupt (Tou otousan!, or something like that). He spends the rest of the episode meeting the rest of the staff, all of them weird, especially the girls, and watching them interact while finding a niche for himself. In other words it’s just like the previous Working(!!!) but with different weird characters.

All Wagnarias are the same, apparently.

All Wagnarias are the same, apparently.

It’s off to a good start. One thing the first three seasons had trouble doing was finding a comic rhythm, but when it found it the series was terrific. This new series has the comic framework already in place and so the obligatory introduction episode avoided the problems such episodes usually have. The new characters all have potential for fun. My favorites at the moment are Miyakoshi and Sayura. I’m a little concerned about Daisuke. He’s too normal right now and his family are more annoying than funny–I miss the Takanashi sisters already, but that’s about the only thing I missed this episode, well, apart from Popura, of course. I may have to keep this one.

Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku … a dark take on magical girls. I can’t deal with anything heavy this season, so no. … VIVid Strike is another take on a franchise I never watched in the first place, so no. Never got far with Uta no Prince-sama, so not going to watch this new one … Not interested in wrestling, so going to skip Tiger Mask W. Never watched the first Gundam Orphans, so no …

Those colors, this is Show by Rock all right.

Those colors, this is Show by Rock all right.

Let’s look at Show by Rock!!#. I was one of those strange people who liked the first season, not that I’d put it on any list. What will they do for an encore? Well, we start with our newest villain, the Queen of Darkness, as she and her armada launch a “black hole Canon” beam at Planet Sound, and everything blows up. It looks bad, so some folks go back in time to stave off the attack, leading us to Plasmagica, minus Cyan, Criticrista, and those Key guys bickering(and thus reintroducing themselves) about a big concert. Then they announce an earlier, bigger concert, everyone goes off to play, but are interrupted by an evil girls group, and it looks bad until the future group actually called Ninjinriot, interrupt the interruption. Oh, Cyan, back in reality, tries to write a song but an armored suit enters her bedroom and carries her off, hopefully to Midi City.

A look at all the characters that matter except Cyan.

A look at all the characters that matter except Cyan.

Yeah, the show never cared much about a coherent story, that and the nuttiness they use to replace it are one of the things I liked about the original. I think this episode made a misstep in not showing us Cyan until nearly the end, since I for one was waiting for her to appear. Meanwhile, everyone else in the cast goes through their motions until she does, which isn’t a bad thing, though I get a little tired of all the Shingan Crimsonz members having to deliver a line at once, entertaining as some of then are. Not sure if I want to keep watching this with my schedule and all, but since there’s no significant drop in quality I’ll keep it in mind.

What’s next … Touken Ranbu–I think I’ve seen people play that game on Niconico, but no … Idol Memories–no … 12-Sai. Chicchana Mune no Tokimeki, didn’t watch the first season, so no … Stella no Mahou, maybe later … Trickster looks interesting but heavy and I want silliness for the time being, so no … Shakunetsu no Takkyuu Musume–no. TO BE CONTINUED …

New shows Summer 2016 #5, the last

July 12, 2016 4 comments
That city is about to get blown up.  Just a warning.

A bomb is going to land less than a second after this shot.

This time we start with Qualidea Code, where we start with everything getting blown up and two kids, one crying, one reassuring. The angelic music for the second kid was a nice touch. Flash forward to after they’re pulled out of cold sleep with new superpowers. The boy, Ichiya, is extremely talented and blowing up the monsters, but is a dick. The girl, Canaria, is still reassuring, but otherwise a ditz. Ichiya keeps saying “All we need is me!”, insulting his peers and obsessing about his ranking (#4) while the #207 guy gets the better lines. Together they, and little battalions of snipers, witches, Macross-style songstresses, and one girl with the most power but lousy aim, sort of make a mockery of a battle with an alien incursion.

qualidea1-1

Ichiya and Canaria

Well, I for one enjoyed it. The mass destruction at the beginning looked frightening, and while the mood was anything but after that I still enjoyed seeing all the different forces at work. Ichiya is annoying as hell, and I was afraid the whole thing was going to be about his supremacy in battle, but the show had fun knocking him off his pins. There’s also his unacknowledged bond with Canaria, which gives him some humanity. The other characters in his group actually have personalities, from genki to morose and in-between. For the cause, they have too much. It looks like the show’s plan is forge them into an actual team. Plus, there was one genuine laugh, when the word gets out that Tenkawa was about to “get serious,” and forces on BOTH SIDES run the hell away. Enough to keep me watching.

Clouds to start    .  There will be much more water vapor later to obscure various body parts.

Clouds to start Ange Vierge. There will be much more water vapor later to obscure various body parts.

Next is Ange Vierge and another character who likes to forge ahead in spite of teammates’ warnings, only Saya is doing it out of a lack of personal esteem and a desire to get to the next level. She’s UC now, whatever that means. Anyway, aliens show up, she forges ahead, nearly gets killed, is backed up by her teammates (introducing themselves one by one as they fight, of course), and they win. Then they discuss it in a hot tub. Meanwhile, their senpais also discuss the battle, from THEIR hot tub. Then Saya, after arguing with team leader Amane, walks off to a third hot tub. For about twelve minutes, no one in this show wears any clothes. The only reason they put them on again is a mock battle to help the UC girls get experience points. The get their ass kicked, but nicely. I assume it’s back to the hot tub after that, but we’re out of time.

The girls about to get their asses kicked.

The girls about to get their asses kicked.

Nudity aside it was entertaining enough for a first episode, and it’s an interesting contrast to Qualidea Code. Here, the characters all seem to like each other, but like Qualidea many of them are frustrated by their ranking and bicker over who gets the most chances to hack and blast the enemy. True, the characters here obviously based on a card game, but there’s a nice variety of powers at work here. The backstory, where they have to save all five dimensions from coming together and blowing up or something, is ridiculous, but as one character puts it: the enemy comes and we fight it. I’ll add that they’ll also spend a lot of time naked. Dunno if I’ll keep watching, but it’s harmless enough.

Mob Psycho 100 has a surreal opening that the rest of the episode can't really top.

Mob Psycho 100 has a surreal opening that the rest of the episode can’t really top.

Finally, it’s Mob Psycho 100, where we watch a fake psychic/con man named Reigen take the money of a stupid couple and face an evil spirit, who, it turns out, isn’t much. Still, Reigen calls in his apprentice and the story’s real hero, Mob, who easily dispatches it and gets his pay of 300 yen. Then the two go to a tunnel and meet a lot of nasty spirits. Again, Mob does all the work and Reigen takes the credit. All the while, Mob’s explosion level goes up to 27%. Now you know what the 100 in the title means. In between exorcising, we see that Mob is a pretty useless middleschooler, but his family is pretty nice.

Mob about to get eaten.

Mob about to get eaten.

The best parts are when Mob actually goes into action. The art and animation is fluid and imaginative, but that doesn’t happen very much. Plus, we spend way too much time watching Reigen try and cover up the fact that he’s a charlatan. What makes it worse is that Mob is such a naive person that he doesn’t see through Reigen, which makes me feel less sorry for this poor, used kid. Since the original work is by the One Punch Man guy, the character designs remind me of that series and make me smile. Hard to say if this show will be as good; one thing is has is the countdown to Mob’s explosion. Looking forward to that. Let’s wait and see if they bring in something that will let us see more of Mob and less of Reigen.

Did I miss anything? Well, I missed a lot, but that’s all the new shows I’m going to try this season.