It’s embarrassing that I’m still working on episode ones when some shows are up to episode threes, but nothing I can do about it.
Shoujo – Kageki Revue Starlight starts off normally enough, with our ditzy heroine Karen dragged to school by her shy friend Mahiru, where they prepare for morning ballet practice at the prestigious performing arts school for girls Seisho Music Academy. We watch a bunch of girls enter and interact and learn about the upcoming production of Starlight, which they will do at the school’s 100th festival.
But a transfer student, Hikari, enters, who’s really good at everything, prompting some good-natured jealousy from the others (nice to see them supportive of each other, for now). Karen and Hikari knew each other twelve years ago, but now Hikari is aloof, though it seems to be shyness. Karen has a weird dream where Hikari pushes her off the top of Tokyo Tower … Okay, that’s kind of weird, but nothing is made of it until Karen, looking for Hikari, takes an elevator that she didn’t know the school had … NOW it gets really weird, and magnificent, but why a giraffe?
It reminds me of something by Kunihiku Ikuhara in the way it drops from a relatively normal situation into strangeness, like Penguindrum, and the stylized combat of Utena with military officer tunics, with brass buttons replacing roses, though the look of Starlight is more traditional, and no, he’s not involved in this. Also, I can sort of see where this show is going. These eight girls will probably settle their personal scores and professional jealousies in combat, one per episode, but Karen says more than once that they will all become Starlight together, meaning she will support the team, not an individual, not even herself, or maybe she was talking about her and her childhood friend Hikari, center stage and all that. Karen might be the kind of brave, dynamic girl to make that work. This first battle, in fact the episode, was fluid and very well-done. Well, I’m a fan of grounded weirdness in anime, so I think I’ll give this one a shot. Besides it gave me the first “Holy Shit!” moment of the season.
In High Score Girl it’s 1991, and we follow a boy named Haruo, great at arcade games, who finally meets his match in his smart, popular, and rich classmate Akira. He gets so frustrated that he does a low move (“Turtling with Guile” in Street Fighter 2), getting him a punch in the jaw. Later he plays against a couple who throw tantrums, decides to back off, so Akira beats their ass instead, in the game and in real life after they beat on poor Haruo for a while. Then they play together at a candy store to pass the time until it stops raining, and to keep the storekeeper off their backs for not buying anything. Haruo is further abused, but maybe in love. As for Akira, she’s too weird for us to tell.
Great fun. I thought I would find it annoying, but I warmed up to Haruo’s internal monologue immediately–not sure why. And Akira is so odd that it’s impossible not to like her. She doesn’t say a word; her actions and incomprehensible face that provide the only clues as to what she’s thinking. And it’s another educational show. We learn a lot about early 90s arcade games. My only question is, why is turtling with Guile considered such a breach of courtesy? It’s in the game–you should use it. I only hope that the show gives us a big story arc. Right now it looks like it’ll have a few little stories an episode, each based on a different game.
Lord of Vermillion Guren no Ou starts in the ruins of Tokyo, I guess, where some superpowered young folk are flying around killing each other while spouting lines, until they’re all dead. The end. Well, maybe, but after that we meet Chihiro, college kid who was taken in by a nice kendo dojo owner and his son and best bud, Kotetsu. They head to campus when a weird noise and red mist happens and everyone collapses. Chihiro has a dream where a girl quotes Shakespeare (Tempest) at him, and wakes up five months later, and we see huge plant-tentacles all over the city, which is closed off. He returns to the dojo where the nice old man has turned into a huge monster …
I am intrigued by the mystery of it all, and the event thirteen years ago that a reporter keeps asking Chihiro about. However, I wasn’t terribly thrilled by anything else. All of the characters are dull, except for maybe the rude nurse, and Chihiro is the dullest. Also, it looks like it’s going to be about a lot of people with superpowers trying to kill each other. That doesn’t interest me. It looks okay and it has some nice supernatural light shows, but it’s all in bloody red. I’ll pass.
Don’t know if I’ll pass on Grand Blue or not. In episode one Iori returns to the beach town where he used to live to begin college. Sounds like a romance story right there, right? All those childhood friends and all. But instead he’s chased around by naked men who want him to join their scuba club and drink way too much alcohol, to the disdain of his cute cousin, Chisa. Thanks to these drunks, he gets in and out of trouble all episode, and ropes in another new student only to get the heat off him, oh, and in exchange for some clothes, though at least he has trunks on.
Here’s the thing, if the show was only going to be about drunken college capers I’d ditch it right away, but there is the scuba angle, which they barely explored in ep1. I don’t know about romance, however, since both the girls we meet here are cousins of his. Next week it looks like they’ll actually dive, and we’ll see how that balances with the excessive partying.
Yuragi-sou no Yuuna-san starts out with a guy named Kogarashi, somewhat trained in getting rid of nasty ghosts (all he knows is punching them, but he’s good at it), starts a happy new life in an onsen town at a haunted boarding house, fully expecting that, when the ghost shows up, he’ll punch them and he can enjoy the low rent and free hot spring all he wants. The ghost indeed appears, while he’s in the water, only it’s a sexy young girl who keeps falling out of her yukata. How can he punch that? Worse, once she realizes this boy can see everything, she’s embarrassed no end and beats him up. Waking up, he meets the other tenants, all suspicious, sexy girls, and then the ghost, Yuuna, who’s actually quite sweet and wouldn’t hurt a flea, good thing, too because they’re sharing the same room … Oh, there’s some talk about her turning evil, and Kogarashi gets beaten up by the other tenants for falling into their bath.
Need I say there’s a lot of fanservice in this show? Well, that’s okay. This is no masterpiece by any measure but it wasn’t that bad, either. Kogarashi is no wimpy harem lead–he jumps into the fray when another exorcist tries to banish Yuuna and apart from Yuuna he’s quite confident. Which is nice because it looks like the harem is going to treat him like this is Love Hina, especially the falling into the girls’ bath thing. The episode flows along with no missteps, doing what it has to do in establishing characters (the harem girls might actually be interesting) and overarching story, the regret that keeps Yuuna stuck here. We’ll see if it can keep up this acceptable first episode.
Nothing else really interests me, so that’s it for now. Now on to episode twos (and threes) Thanks for reading!