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New shows Spring 2017 5, the last

April 18, 2017 4 comments

Swirly clouds to open Shuumatsu.

Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasuka? Isogashii Desuka? Sukutte Moratte Ii Desuka? … what a title. Anyway, we have a woman talking about how happy she was that someone loved her while we watch a sky battle and people plunging to earth. Cut to a generic fantasy village where everyone’s an animal, except for a girl chasing a cat who falls into the arms of a guy named Willem. Their appearance (fully human) bugs the villagers, so they mosey around while Scarborough Fair plays, and the girl goes away. Then Willem gets a job guarding a storehouse of weapons on one of the floating islands, and guess who’s there? Also there is a sexy troll who wants to eat him but doesn’t because he’s the last of his kind, and some rambunctious little girls. Turns out they’re the weapons he’s supposed to be guarding. Oh, and humanity got wiped out over 500 years ago.

She’s more polite than most trolls.

A very small part of a much longer, epic tale. The part we see here isn’t bad. The main girl is kind of boring, but Willem seems okay, and the little girls are cute without being too annoying. But, in spite of what we get of the backstory, it’s bland, and an obvious adaptation from a literary source, hence the too-long conversations and explanations. Maybe they’ll take care of this as the series moves on, but I’m not betting on it.

Saekano’s return begins with another classic Utaha-Eriri bickering match.

Decided not to watch Fukumenkai Noise because this is going on too long–watch as it becomes the Show of the Decade … and I’ve written plenty about Natsume Yuujinchou already. So next is a show which I will probably follow: Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata ♭, which I will call Saekano2 as all sane people will. As we start the new adventures of a dull producer and his adorable harem/creative team, Utaha and Eriri fighting, and someone says “Gee, why are they always fighting?” It’s flashback time. Generally the reason seems to be jealousy over Tomoya, and it’s been festering for a while. But to complicate the issue the show also establishes the profound respect the bickering girls have for each others’ talents.

The fateful first bickering.

Not the way I would start a new season, with a flashback, but it managed to get us up to speed with Eriri and Utaha. We don’t get much of Tomoya, but no great loss there. What I really wanted was more time for my favorite, Megumi, the supposedly bland girl who can destroy the conceits of whoever she’s talking to with a single, seemingly inoffensive line. Oh, another thing we get plenty of is fanservice, that hasn’t changed. Still, I enjoyed season one a good deal so I’m going to keep watching season two.

Lucifer is about to be seen plunging through that sky.

Now it’s Sin – Nanatsu no Taizai, where we watch Lucifer get cast out of Heaven, muttering bitter stuff all the way. She crashes into a cathedral and has a brief chat with a nun in training named Maria, who wears a very short skirt yet turns out to be about the most modest character we see. Then she gets cast down further, into hell, where a girl named Levi feels her up a bit, until Satan shows up and gets her ass kicked. After that it’s a confrontation with the other main Sins, especially Vanity, more fighting, more groping, until Lucifer gets her wings cut off and becomes a full demon. Then she goes up and stabs Maria for some reason.

Yeah, it’s a big mess, an excuse for fanservice, thankfully edited out (but I bet the DVD won’t be). With the way the Sins all behave, they should all represent Lust, apart from Gluttony, who’s too busy eating. The actual Lust is no more lustful than the rest. There’s also Levi’s floating blue dog-toy, whose presence is unexplained but helps with the visual naughty-bit editing. Well, if you like this sort of thing I suppose it’s not bad. It’s bright and colorful, though, apart from a couple of decent action sequences, not much in the animation department. Let’s move on.

Shroudy clouds to begin DanMachi-the spinoff.

Finally, Dungeon ni Deai o Motomeru no wa Machigatte Iru Darouka Gaiden: Sword Oratoria, a spin-off of DanMachi where we follow Aiz around and not Bell. Or rather, for this episode, we follow one of her teammates around, Lefiya, an elf and magician but not a very confident one. You can understand her dilemma. It’s hard to rattle off a long spell when there’s a monster about to rip you to shreds. She gets pep talks from DanMachi veterans such as Aiz and the two Amazon girls and then when their party is attacked by a whole new type of slimy monster she gets another chance–and fails again. Oh, at the end we get a glimpse of Bell and his first embarrassing meeting with Aiz.

Lefiya, worried as usual.

Not going to watch it. The episode was bland and lazy. The monsters’ purple slime is supposed to melt things, but apparently only the things the show wants it to, not things like Gareth’s shield when it’s important to the story. While I liked how it will take time for Lefiya to overcome her difficulties, she isn’t that interesting a character to root for. Tiona and Tione, the Amazon fanservice duo, are more fun to watch, and Aiz is Aiz. Most of DanMachi’s side characters never interested me to begin with. For other fans of the first series, the new story arc, beyond Lefiya, involve Uranus and some nefarious plans, hence the new monsters, and that might be fun to watch. Not for me, though.

Sorry I’m so late finishing this.

New shows Spring 2017 4

April 13, 2017 Leave a comment

Not sure what that is …

Sekai suru Kado dumped two episodes on us in one week, but I don’t have the time for both at the moment, so I watched episode 0, probably a preview. We meet two government flunkies, first Shun, your average lazy young guy, and then Shindo, who’s a bit weird. Together they are assigned to negotiate a buyout of a plating factory that has seen better days, but Shindo gets interested what they’ve been toying with. Then he brings in a scientist and chats up a few bigwigs, and they create a “supermetal!” Everyone is happy because no one really wanted that general purpose hall they planned to build, anyway. So maybe we’re going to watch a show about real government suits changing lives? Sounds a bit dull. Then this happens.

At this point, a flying cube wasn’t what I expected.

Yep, episode 0 was a precursor to main fun, which starts with the other episode. That cube is fascinating and great to look at, though the CGI they use for everything when it’s around looks fake. As for the story, it looks like ace negotiator Shindo is going to negotiate the best possible outcome for his side and the other (an important point for him, though his reasons are less moral than practical) in outer space, or another dimension, or something. “Why?” is left unanswered for now, and now I suppose I’ll have to watch the next episode of thing thing to find out. It had better be good.

Re:Creators’ rather self-important, movie-like opening.

Re:Creators, after an artistic and confusing opening bit where a girl might jump in front of a train, we don’t know, has Sota, your average high school boy, talking about narrating a story, then has him checking his tablet for his favorite show, but the tablet gets weird on him and suddenly he’s in another world where a girl in a mecha fighting another girl, who has a great rotating sword routine going on. Then he’s back in his home and so is the mecha girl, Selesia, and the other girl shows up and there’s another fight, where another inappropriate character shows up. What’s going on is that Selesia is the heroine of the boy’s favorite show and light novel, and she’s stuck here for the time being, with the third character and god knows how many others.

Selesia discovers she’s fictional.

In other words, fictional characters are finding themselves in our world, which sword girl says is the world of the gods, and these gods, i.e., us, are cruel people who must be stopped. The sword girl is quite amusing in her description of us. It’s an interesting premise, not the first to bring fictional characters to earth to be sure, but one with potential. But if I was sent here, I would find the person who created me and ask them why he/she made my own world such a shitty place. The answer is of course that the creators are trying to tell a good story with conflict. I wonder what the characters will do if they discover some smutty doujin written about them. Interesting premise aside, this show goofs with some of the usual tropes, beautiful girl in a boy’s room, that sort of thing, and that worries me a little. We’ll have to see how it pans out.

Eromanga-sensei starts with a finish.

Eromanga Sensei gives us Izumi, a pen name, a high school boy who’s been writing successful erotic light novels for a while. He has never met his illustrator, “Eromanga sensei,” and is distracted by the shut-in little girl, Sagiri, who’s been living with him for a year, not sure why. He cooks her meals, etc. Well, I’ll give you three guesses as to the identity of the narrator.

She says that a lot. Gets a bit annoying.

It all sounds ecchi, and the show occasionally gives us a little too much of Sagiri body from time to time. But the show itself goes light on the ero stuff and focuses instead on Izumi and Sagiri’s relationship, siblings not by blood, living under the same roof, having a shared interest, but Sagiri is too shy and traumatized by her past to truly open up. When she finally lets Izumi into her room we get a sweet but possibly too long scene where he coaxes a little out of her, and wisely stops when she reaches her limit. If they continue with this path, with a little eromanga silliness mixed in, this could be a nice little series. Not sure I’ll have time for it, though.

Uchouten Kazoku 2 begins with some typically lovely background art.

For me the biggest surprise of the season is the return of Uchouten Kazoku, a wonderful show that did its job three years ago and had absolutely no need for more, yet here it is. As for the story, well, like first season, it kind of spreads over the place and yet remains familiar. Yasaburo continues to look after Akadama-sensei, when Nidaime (I guess) returns to do harm to him. But it’s mixed in with brother Yaichiro wanting to revive his fathers shogi tournament, hunting for something called tsuchinoko, and even Nidaime’s return is complicated by tengu politics. Meanwhile Yasaburo happily walks through it all in his inimitable way, happily talking with both sides of the conflict.

I wasn’t sure I wanted another season, but this episode reminded me just how good the original was, the quick, witty bits that refer to other moments, things like the Hawaii room in a proctology clinic, the furniture falling everywhere (tengu stones), and Yasaburo’s devil-may-care attitude. The only things I missed are Benten, who is mentioned a lot but is on a world tour, and that tanuki girl that they kept hidden through most of season one. Also, I’m also happy to report that the show is still gorgeous to look at, particularly the background art of Kyoto. This season already has a lot of possible winners in it, but I might have to find room for this one.

Some fake european history to start off Zero.

Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho is euro-style fantasy, set back in the days of witch hunting. After a brief lesson which basically told us that life sucks for witches, we quickly discover that they also suck for beastfallen, half-man half-animal. Plenty of rewards for anyone who can bag either a witch or a beastfallen, and our unnamed beastfallen (so I’ll call him “Beast”) hero is well aware of it. He meets up with a young, cute witch named Zero, and after some bickering and soup-stealing they team up, to watch each other’s back until Zero gets the Book of Thirteen back, else it’s the end of the world, I guess. Also Zero will transform Beast back into a human.

Straightforward show. Both Beast and Zero are types, but not annoyingly so. It helps that Beast is afraid of witches and sorcery. Also, while sorcery is well-known and feared, magic is still pretty new to the world, and Zero gives us few interesting infodumps on the subject, having written the book on it, so to speak. The kid they bring in at the end looks annoying, I hope he’s not a regular. So the show has a decent backstory, an interesting goal, and a couple of decent characters. Decent start. By next week I’ll probably have forgotten it exists.

New shows Spring 2017 3

April 11, 2017 Leave a comment

My desperate catch-up continues …

Tsuki ga Kirei starts with your average town street.

We now have Tsuki ga Kirei, where we meet a boy (Kotarou) and a girl (Akane) as they start their third year of middle school and start noticing each other. He writes stories (lots of literary references to look up), she’s on the track team, and wind up in the same class. We watch as they glance furtively at each other and get nervous a lot, barely comprehending their own why. They both wind up in the same management team for the sports festival and have several nervous interactions, leading up to a moment where Akane, out of decency, has to get a little proactive when he misses a meeting and gets barked at, because she didn’t have his Line number and couldn’t enter him into the group. And so it begins …

Let the embarrassing pauses begin!

This is about the purist adolescent love story I’ve seen. There are no gimmicks. The mood is quiet and filled with cherry blossoms. The lovebirds say very little but sigh and gasp a lot when the object of their uncomprehended desires appears, and there is a LOT of sighing in this episode. The classmates, more typically, are teasing but will probably be supportive once things develop. Kotarou has a buddy at a local bookstore who spots what he’s beginning to think of, while Akane’s friends haven’t figured it out yet. It’s well done, looks great, paced well considering the snails pace of the subject matter–getting these two passive kids together is going to take a lot of time. Love story fans will enjoy this a lot. Not sure I’ll keep watching, but had no problems with this episode.

Clockwork planet begins with a flashback of the world dying.

Clockwork Planet has as its prehistory the world dying, then being rebuilt using gears and clockwork, and everyone is pretty happy with it. Marie, a girl genius on a floating craft, has a super-powered clockwork doll fall out of it (got to get the plot moving somehow). It lands in the home of Naoto, a young boy who wants to fix things and manages to get the doll RyuZU to wake up, insult him, and carry him away before his home is wrecked by something. They have various adventures while Marie and her team forget about her, because the government is going to purge Kyoto, which isn’t fully explained but is very very bad. Meanwhile, Naoto activates RyuZU in an odd way so she’s now his insulting servant.

RyuZU rescuing Naoto before coming on to and and insulting him.

Well, if you like clockworks this is the show for you. I love the premise, rather like those Jay Lake novels, except no one is thinking to rewind the world, at least not yet. On the other hand, the characters and story are awfully cartoonish, which would be all right except for the fanservice and innuendo they toss in, like the finger sucking and getting Marie to put on some clothes. An odd and often disturbing mix. A shame, because the idea of a clockwork planet is very intriguing and I would like to see more.

An appropriate place to start Kabukibu!.

Kabukibu! stars Kurogo, high school first-year who loves kabuki and wants to make a kabuki club. Can’t do, but he can form a group if he wants. His taciturn friend Tonbo finds some people to recruit: Shin, a tone-deaf rock singer, Kaoru, a girl, and Niwa, who has some emotional scars the show will work out, and finally Jin, a guy who already does Kabuki. Basically Kurogo goes from one recruit to the next and keeps getting shot down, but he’s optimistic, and he has an ability to grow back lost teeth.

Tonbo cheers for Kurogo, for some reason.

I would like very much to learn more about Kabuki, but I don’t think I want to do so with this show, considering this straightforward and rather dull first episode. Kurogo has no personality except for a bright optimism and a tendency to lapse into famous kabuki phrases. Tonbo is even worse. As for the kabuki, they do introduce some concepts and history, so you might enjoy that. But the actual kabuki they present wasn’t animated terribly well. You’d think they would devote more time to that. So probably a no-go for me.

Renai Boukon gets right to the story.

Now for Renai Boukon. Average high school boy Seiji gets a visit from a demon and is told if he doesn’t kiss someone by the end of the day, he will die, though it’s not quite like that, and so he finds his crush, Akane, at school, and she turns out to be a yandere and tries to kill him a few times because he’s hanging out with Guri, the demon, who’s actually a cupid angel. So Guri adds her own name to the book and now it’s a love triangle. Then another girl, Yuzu, shows up and, well, Guri isn’t the most responsible of angels. There’s a cat with a human face, too.

The characters of the love square in chibi mode.

The show is loaded with gags which are sometimes related to the story, and sometimes just silly. There’s a cumulative effect going on, so that I got worn down with all the twists and surprises from the plot and all the extra names being added to the book. But I also laughed a lot. I just wonder if the show can keep up this pace for an entire season. Judging by the OP they introduced just about everyone this episode. What are they going to do for the rest of the time? Well, there’s some ways this boy, angel, yandere, and incest-yuri girl can bounce off each other, I’m sure.

Your typical first day of school sakura for Hinako Note.

Hinako Note, an entry in the “Cute girls doing cute things” faction, has Hinako coming to Tokyo to attend a high school and do drama. She cutely gets lost but comes across the address, a used bookstore where another girl, Kuina, is cutely eating paper. In Hinako’s room there’s a girl in a maid costume named Mayu who works in the coffee shop attached to the store (alas, no rabbits) and is cute. Later, to cheer Hinako up they go to a park and act cute, eventually meeting their landlord Hinako, who’s also in their school, and there’s more cute stuff.

Hinako, Mayu, and Kuina being cute.

I mock, but I quite like the CGDCT category, so all this cuteness is not a turn-off for me. However, I’ve seen enough of them to know what I like, and weirdness is near the top. The girls must not just be cute, but eccentric (Is the Order a Rabbit?), or the show’s style should be (HidaSketch). There’s a bit of both those shows in this one, the coffee shop and maid costume, and the bathtub speech at the end, though that might have just been a one-off. It’s not really at the level of either of those shows yet, but some of these shows take a while to ripen. “… Rabbit didn’t really take off until midway through the first season.” Meanwhile, it’s certainly cute enough, so I’ll try to keep watching.

Twin Angel BREAK has sirens going off over an infiltration by a hedgehog.

Twin Angel BREAK could be confused with Renai Boukon in that its main character, Meguri, travels to Tokyo to start high school and meets a lot of cute friends at school who do cute things like eating lunch together and falling down. But there’s also that hedgehog who was running from guards at a top-secret facility, and that slot machine token (the show refers to it as a “medal”) that sinks into her hand. Also the unfriendly quiet girl who doesn’t talk to anyone. These things wind up changing the show into a very basic magical girl series where they have to defeat their first enemy, except that Meguri is actually the second girl of the team. The first one has been fighting for a while and is sick of it.

Meguri (back) begins to realize she’s in a magical girl show.

I didn’t quite see the magical girl stuff happening, but after that performer started sucking the energy out of the audience it became so predictable that I could check off the main points. Bad guy appearance, check. Cute talking animal appears, check.  Token to transform, check. Embarrassing transformation sequence, check. Because of this I really have no desire to watch any more of it. Maybe if they had tossed in a variation or two it would have gotten me more interested, but I doubt it.

New shows Spring 2017 2

April 7, 2017 Leave a comment

I waited a few seconds but the screen remained dark, so I decided to use this image.

Next, in my traditional season falling-behind, we have Roku de Nashi Majutsu Koushi to Akashic Records, your average magic school story, medieval cathedral town style, where we meet two nice magic girls going to school, and a jerk who runs into them, teases them though it’s his fault, fondles one of them, and of course he’s their new teacher! Substitute, of course, though that means nothing to Sistine and her gentler “sister” Rumia and their classmates, who watch appalled as he botches up every class he teaches when he bothers to try at all. He got hired by Professor Celica, the coolest character in the show so far, and she’s so formidable you know she has a reason. Sistine finally challenges him to a duel and clobbers him, end of episode.

A lot not to like here. Glenn, the substitute teacher, is a jerk, perhaps more than usual because he wants to get fired. We have to put up with his behavior through most of the episode, waiting for something to happen that will change our minds about him, but the show doesn’t get around to it, mainly because it dilly-dallies. Each scene is too long, with the buildup to the duel, where all the students gave their opinions beforehand being the worst. The jokes were entirely predictable (Glenn loses the duel, so it becomes two out of three, then three out of five …), we know they’re coming, and we have to wait for them to finish before the plot can move on. Maybe next week we’ll get something more interesting, but I’m almost beyond caring. Oh, one of the two sisters gropes the other, so if you’re into that …

The slim silhouette of Heine, the new tutor.

Oushitsu Kyoushi Haine is set in some Germanic place in the past and stars Heine, a very young-looking new tutor for the second through fifth princes of whatever Germanic name they give the place. All the previous tutors ran off, so Heine (who early on says he took the job for personal reasons, wonder what those are …) expects the worse. Instead they’re all mixes of goofy male anime cliches, the tsundere, the cold bespectacled one, the scary laconic one, and the goofy one. After meeting them, Heine interviews Leonhard (tsundere) and begins his work of softening the lad up. The other princes get their turn next episode.

Pretty good. I might not watch it, but I did chuckle at it a few times. While the princes are, as I pointed out, regrettable types, Heine the tutor is not. He looks like a young boy but displays an unflappability and calm, and he has a witty internal monologue going for him. He quickly (with the help of a diary Leonhard keeps hidden) sees through Leonhard’s facade of scorn and finds a vulnerability beneath, which, as Leonhard notices, he does not exploit. In other words, he has weapons to win over these boys. Also, the show is often funny. Heine has some good lines, and the show has good timing in the dialogues and knowing just when to drop the characters to chibi form. Again, I don’t know if I want to watch a whole season of this, not really my thing, but I enjoyed this first episode.

One of those shows that tells you what it is.

Sagrada Reset starts wistfully with a high school boy, Kei, getting a in his locker. After a slightly odd talk with his good bro Tomoki about a girl unrelated to the discussion, he goes up to meet the girl at the appointed time and it’s the unrelated girl, Misora, there and not the letter girl (Sumire), while we’re waiting for more information and the two talk about nothing much, the girl says “reset” and it’s suddenly two days earlier. A lot of people in their town have abilities. Kei’s ability is to remember everything, even if Misora resets, so Sumire thought they would be a good team to do, well no one really seems to know. And Misora meets a little girl, Mari, who claims to be fake, and Misora wants to get to the bottom of it.

They WERE talking about something more important, but the conversations meander at times.

Episode one is exhausting. All of the events are very low-key, and all of the characters are capable of producing great abstract thoughts. Recurring words and ideas, in this story arc at least, include fakes (Mari is probably fake, there’s talk of androids, and there was a fable Sumire trots out at one point) righteousness (Sumire claims Kei is, but Kei thinks Misora is, with logic I can’t follow), and the question of how to make choices when all the results lead to sadness. No wonder all three characters are so calm, they’re too busy thinking up metaphors and logical proofs, or simply being sad, for them to waste their time on anything else besides standing some distance away from the others and moving as little as possible. That aside, the show looks interesting. Superpowers but no action, just cautious planning so far. I suspect all of the story arcs will involve little things that hurt individuals. The mood might be a little too serious, but we’ll see if they can lighten it up a little.

A curtain about to go up on Sakura Quest’s charming opening credits.

Sakura Quest, PA Works’ latest, stars Yoshino, a girl about to graduate university but is having a terrible time finding a job in Tokyo. She’s from the sticks and doesn’t want to return there, but accepts a quick job out in Manoyama, or Chupakabura, some fictional name, where she plays the queen of the town. What she didn’t realize is that this job lasts an entire year, so the last ten minutes or so show her running around trying to get a train out of Manoyama, and naturally failing, instead clubbing a chupakabura with her bag. Funny story.

Would-be Tokyoite Yoshino stuck in a tiny village filled with geezers.

Looks to be another slice-0f-life show, and it feels a lot like Hanasaku Iroha, not a bad thing. Not sure about some of the characters, that grumpy geezer Ushimatsu is clearly losing his marbles, yet he’s the boss, or king. The other males are typical for PA Works slice-of-life shows, not outgoing and a little foolish. Yoshino’s going to get some girls to form a posse with, and we meet a couple, all nice, weird, or both, again, PA Works standard issue. Their view of the rural life is a bit condescending at the moment, or maybe we’re supposed to be viewing it through Yoshino’s eyes, but if she grew up in a place like that she ought to know how life goes, and how there aren’t any trains after 9:40. But it’s told well, and I want to see how spunky Yoshino gets along.

Rin’s back.

Busou Shoujo Machiavellanism is all about a school where the girls dominate things and carry weapons, and the boys, in order to prove their subservience, have to put on makeup and act like girls. Then a new student, Fudo, arrives, looking to put his violent past behind him, but he’s confronted by Rin, one of the five blades of the school (yet there is another one seemingly above even them), and they have a prolonged fight where we have time to have every hidden technique they’re using explained to us. I expect he’ll fight the other four girls next time.

And now, Rin’s front.

The hero, Nomura, is annoying in the same way that Glenn above is, but we cut Nomura slack because he didn’t start any fights. It was Rin who challenged him. Otherwise there isn’t much to him apart from some quick, disturbing flashbacks to unpleasant times the show will get to later. The Five Blades might be fun, we don’t really get to know them apart from Rin. The boys at the school acting like flaming transvestites was kind of insulting to both genders. The animation isn’t very good at all. The fight scene got dull with all the explanations, and there was a big infodump in the middle which derailed everything, though I liked how the minion saying it got out of breath when she was finished. But I don’t see anything here worth watching further.

New shows Spring 2017 1

April 4, 2017 Leave a comment

Hooray, I think. It’s time for me to begin my new show reviews for the new season! For those of you that might not be aware, or just don’t care, I tend to follow the shows as they appear on the Random Curiosity Preview page. I will watch just about anything, but not the following: sequels to shows I never watched in the first place, and, er, anything else I don’t want to watch. That will probably include sports shows, male idol shows, and yaoi. I have absolutely nothing against these genres, they’re just not to my taste. Stupidity, as I said last time, is not a deal-breaker. Also, I will introduce each show with the first comprehensible image it gives us, unless it’s all moody and starts with thirty seconds of black ooze or something. So here we go!

First is Boku no Hero Academia 2, but I never watched season 1, so that’s out. That means …

Gin no Guardian starts by telling you who made it.

Gin no Guardian is first out of the gate. We start with some pajama-girl ogling as they talk about how their school rests on a graveyard or something, leading the adored dorm boss student, Riku Rei, to think fondly of the person who protects them all, and who also dominates most of in the OP, Riku Suigin, and his devoted cat, we switch to him in another dimension, trapped, I believe, and guarding a mausoleum against thousands of robed zombie things, mostly by hand. He has to do it every night and doesn’t seem to mind it. Then it’s flashback time to when he was a pool boy who couldn’t swim and nearly drowns, rescued by Rei, he’s told by someone.

I’ll say this for Suigen: he’s got a cool scarf.

My heart sank as I watched the OP. There was nothing new there at all. Things got a little better when we got an idea of the story, i.e, when Rei thought about Rin and then we switch to him. The battle was too ludicrous to think about, all those zombies, and got insipid when we turned to the pool flashback. I don’t really care how Rei and Ruigin met. Will there some day be a show where this sort of thing is NOT considered vital information? Well, I guess they’re trying to sell this as a romance, too. I am a little interested in how Ruigin got stuck in that hell-world, but I’m also afraid it will take too episodes to get there, and the other things didn’t interest me terribly much. Probably this is a no.

Shingeki no Kyojin 2 starts with a book with all sorts of grotesque pictures in it.

Next is Shingeki no Kyojin 2. Will it compare to the first season? Well, it starts, after a pleasant flashback of mayhem, with the unwelcome discovery that there are titans inside the walls, not in the city, but literally inside. While a woman I don’t remember the name of (easy to do in this show) interrogates a pastor who knows about it and isn’t telling. But there’s more bad news, as it turns out titans have broken through Wall Rosa. Flash back to an outpost and some old favorites (Sasha, Conny, well never cared for him myself) as they learn the news and ride off to warn everyone, leaving Miche to distract the big approaching idiots. Then this new one shows up.

No, the question is how come you’re speaking at all.

In other words, this series wants to dump us into a bunch of mysteries as well as the usual gallons of blood and limbs. That’s a good way to work it. The action scenes are great to watch as usual, but week after week of battling doesn’t interest me too much. Now we have to figure out what the talking titan wants, who he’s going to show the battle gear to, and what those titans in the walls are doing there, and why they should be kept out of the sun. As for our core trio, Eren, Mikasa, and Armin, we only get one scene with them. Maybe the show will drift away from them a little. It’s got plenty to do otherwise. As for me, I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch another season of this, but I admit this episode got me interested again.

Granblue Fantasy starts with a porthole looking at some purple things.

Next it’s Granblue Fantasy, the Animation, based on a game I must have seen before. We have Lyria and bigger, stronger Katalina running away on a steampunkish battleship until they run into a bad guy who wants to do more experiments on Lyria, who freaks out, her gem interacts with another one and she’s thrown from the ship in the explosion, which was witnessed by the brave young lad, er, Gran, who finds and rescues her (Katalina shows up too) until the bad guys catch up again and everyone conjures up monsters. Oh, Gran gets killed but Lyria tries to give him her powers, but is interrupted, so now they BOTH have powers, one half each I assume. And time runs out before the monsters can duke it out.

Vyrn, Gran, Lyria, and Katalina on the run.

I don’t game much, so I think I’m getting the deja vu vibes from Lyria, who looks amazingly like Belldandy without the jewel. As for the rest of the art and character designs, I found them attractive in a superficial gaming way. It all looks pretty nice. But the rest of it doesn’t hold up, no, wait, there was one excellent moment when evil knights were running up to our heroes while Katalina was running up to THEM. That was a great moment, but it was about all. The story was full of awkward pauses and moments where both sides just stood there while someone talked or recovered (Pommern interrupting Lyria’s transfer wasn’t bad, though–had to laugh at that). Lyria, Gran, and Katalina aren’t much beyond their fantasy roles, much as I liked Katalina, and the flying pet sidekick Vyrn got annoying quickly. And while I praised most of the art, the Bahahmut at the end looked like a crappily drawn DnD cover from the 1970s. Nope, going to avoid this.

A streetlight on a rainy night, perfect for an escape.

Next is Alice to Zouroku, a double-length episode where we watch Alice, a young girl, who has escaped from a research facility using her super-power, which is to conjure up anything she thinks of, teleportation, mind-reading, etc. She almost gets caught but gets help from another powered person and winds up in Shinjuku, where she meets grumpy old Zouroku, gets chased some more, and winds up staying at his place while he figures out what the hell is going on.

Because it’s a long episode it takes its time. I believe the show was more interested in introducing us to the characters than giving us a ton of action, which is just as well because the CGI clashes with the cute character designs. The scenes with Zouroku take even longer, but it feels more appropriate. Zouroku has to get from being annoyed and scolding the girl (and the sisters who are chasing her) to accepting Sana and deciding to help her and teach her a few things, like manners. The action-adventure plot isn’t terribly new: powered kids who escape abuse in an evil lab, but the slice-of-life side of it might help, if I’m up for a heartwarming geezer-waif story, and I’m not sure I am. I just wonder if the narrative and pacing can sustain both styles.

Tsugumomo hasn’t shown up yet, so …

Frame Arms Girls lets you know what to expect right from the start.

Frame Arms Girls stars …, oh, Ao, high school girl of course living alone who gets a “doll” in the mail. The doll wakes up, introduces herself as Gouran, and starts asking questions to aid her knowledge of the world while Ao underreacts. Ao, you see, doesn’t want to do anything hard, like assemble Gouran’s armored parts, so maybe freaking out over a talking doll takes too much energy for her. Later, two more dolls appear and everyone starts challenging each others to fights. We see one in all it’s CGI badness.

Actually, Ao’s tendency to let things flow helps keep this episode afloat. She just reacts and asks the right questions to move the story along. I’m not sure what the story IS except she’s going to watch the robot girls fight and take notes for the company. Even with more robot girls coming along in future episodes, each of them, I assume, also not wearing pants, I don’t think that’s going to carry the season. Now, if you’re someone who likes assembling models, the show goes into a some detail about doing it right, but I’m not one of those people. And as I said before, the CGI in the battles is pretty awful.

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.