Continuing on my crazy quest to watch at least 3 episodes of every single TV broadcast show, here is my second week of Winter 2011.
So, I was a bit slow on watching a few episodes, so this week’s post was a bit late. This time, I didn’t really tweet or post impressions as I went, so I’ll probably just splatter out thoughts now.
Nyaruani is probably what you’d call… a waste of resources. If there was a good thing about it, then it is because it doesn’t waste very much at all. The shorts are way too abrupt and short to create any sort of real endearment, and the punchlines seem erratic and premature. Unlike the other short that was not TV broadcasted, they didn’t even establish a running gag. It’s quite hard to find any reason to actually watch this, even if the episode itself is maybe like, 2 minutes of actual content, while the other half of the 4 minutes is occupied by the ending song (which enjoyed a lot more love than the show itself). Ultimately, it’s a flash show. But… there has to be some standard of funniness. And the show just hasn’t been funny at all. I would probably blame the bad sense of comedic timing, ultimately. Doesn’t help that the animation is ultra cheap, even for flash. Thus, dropped.
Starry Sky and I enjoy a love-hate relationship. I have no interest in men romantically, so the first 2 episodes completely missed me so far as them being just like, pure derp face guy with mole speaking bad French and intensely flirting with whatever her face is. The 3rd episode though, I dunno, Tsubasa as a character isn’t really too bad. The NUNUNUNUNU thing is a bit grating, but at least he has a REAL story and such lol. Too bad episode 4 ruined my BEAUTIFUL BL OTP. I doubt I’ll continue the show much more, but I’ll stick around as long as there’s something for me to laugh at and there’s at least some attempt to make the characters vaguely interesting lol. Instead of like, some super ridiculous cardboard cutout hug pillow like Henri was.
Wolverine isn’t really my cup of tea. I’ve never cared for American comics, it’s just not my thing, though I sort of enjoyed the old X-men cartoons as a kid. Overall, the series so far looks pretty boring, aside from the silly attempt to use the Japanese setting. I really doubt I’ll watch past episode 3.
Fractale is by that infamous Yamakan guy. He’s not totally my style, but I don’t really mind him. I overall enjoyed the feel of Kannagi at the very least, even if it was doomed to be underwhelming because of incomplete source material. And in fact, I still quite prefer his episodes of Lucky Star. I found it more palatable than the forced, later episodes which seemed to just mostly retreat back into machine gunning otaku references and hoping one stuck. Anyways, the show Fractale itself, definitely has a very powerful Ghibli feel to it. I don’t, however, mean that to necessarily be a complement, since I’m not actually a person who particularly esteems Ghibli. The trio of troublemakers seem like they could be a fun bunch of recurring villains, and the presentation of the heroine is quite charming in a simple way, without being particularly entrenched in any particular moe I can think of. Or, I suppose you could say she is, but the presentation is pretty straight-laced. Do we get a cliche of straight-faced nudity to an opposite sex? Sure. But the key lies in how the cinematography chooses to present that “cliche”. And the biggest sticking point with me, is that it doesn’t present it at all. When she becomes nude, neither the animation nor the storyboard shows any increased effort, and while the kid is flustered, there isn’t much else there to elevate the scene to a sort of gag that one could laugh at. In other words, it lacks the sort of concerted effort in highlighting these moments, that I find necessary to make something “moe”, or such is the convention of directing these scenes. Once again, I don’t mean that his resistance to convention is something that should be celebrated, but as far as Yamamoto’s desire to not be pedantic, this part I can say is something of a success.
However, aside from the heroine, much of the rest of the show isn’t particularly special so far. The world of Fractale is not a badly conceived one, but that alone is no longer really able to make it stand out very much, since this kind of world has become used quite a bit now, and explored and trodden over by a great host of competent shows before it. Additionally, the voice actor choice for the protagonist bothers me. She isn’t particularly skilled at sounding male, so far as I can tell. More importantly, she still has “that voice” that she basically uses in all of her other roles, such as the lesbian-turned-straight reverse-trap yakuza princess in Nyankoi or the perverted, shouta hunter teacher in Seitokai Yakuindomo. It’s awful of me to typecast strongly, but it really impacts my ability to take the guy seriously much of the time. Still, it’s far too early to make any solid judgments. The show’s still well within the realm of becoming good or bad.
Hourou Musuko: I’m not sure what to say about this show. I know nothing about the source material though. In atmosphere so far, it’s ultimately quite like the myriad of sentimental, middle-school life shows that have come before it, especially in atmosphere and pace. This is most pronounced by the great deal of time spent dwelling on the monologue of the protagonist boy. Of course, it’s not quite just a basic story that celebrates the transient beauty of youth school life (the old mono no aware and all), considering the pair focus of the story both cross dress. However specialized these concerns are, however, the approach taken seems to be one that has already been well-used, which isn’t bad per se. I wasn’t sure while watching the show, but I’ve now heard that in fact the show starts something like 33 chapters in. The already established love triangle, and the fact the show starts after a confession already failed, was something I found somewhat novel, and think is an excellent move on their part. And it is easy for me to say that this shuffle of the storyline is, so far, executed very well. I found myself learning much about the already established relationship in a very economical way, and the web of relation is quickly brought into substance. Whether it can keep up with the narrative need for the story to come is an issue, but so far they’ve shown the ability to do so. As a final note, the art direction is great. If nothing else, the show is a visual treat.
Infinite Stratos: From what I’ve heard from friends who frequent /a/, it seems they are getting ready to participate in another WAR. This time, one of COUNTRY rather than COLOR. And that covers most of what needs to be said about the show. It’s an average harem show that builds up the harem well, and so far, seems on the way to establishing an adequate of meat for fans to fight over and revere and argue about. That’s all a show of this sort needs, really. Fanservice is technically optional, but entirely preferable. I eagerly wait for the personage of CHINA to be unveiled soon. To note some other things though, I think the IS’s look really dumb. I realize this show is one that must dwell on highlighting the human-ness and attractiveness of its female cast, but honestly, I cannot help but be annoyed by the helmetless exoskeletal armor, even if they supposedly have shields. Why have exoskeletal armor covering the rest of the body, yet not bother with the face? The “robots” had a lot of potential to look much cooler. Additionally, the fights aren’t particularly exciting, and heavily reliant on 3D CGi, which ultimately makes it look not-so-good and unexciting much of the time. Still, it lets them do much more ambitious things, so it’s not a total loss.
Yumekui Merry: There’s not much special so far. It’s one of many light novel adaptations of the “Shana” genre. Many have already perfected the method of doing these. Still, I find the characters charming enough, and the acknowledgment of both malicious and sympathetic dream beings is one that works well. I’m looking forward to seeing how the situation of that girl who wanted to be a nurse will proceed. I hear from a manga reader that the story does speed up, and since this isn’t anything I find unpalatable (though really guys, is it necessary to shoot the midriff so much? I understand the need to emphasize fanservice and all, but doing it so often makes it kind of silly. And why is it necessary when you’re going to do a walk-into-them-bathing anyways?) I’ll no doubt continue the show.
Cardfight!! Vanguard: Despite its audience, the show has a few things going for it on a relative level. I wouldn’t recommend anyone watch it anyways. However, drawing the natural comparison against Yu-Gi-Oh, Vanguard as a show is actually quite genuine. It still proposes the somewhat hard-to-believe idea that trading card games are incredibly popular everywhere in the world, and somehow occupy people’s time significantly, but Vanguard unlike Duel Monsters, does not make the conceited claim that it is the only card game that exists. In fact, Aichi’s narration first says that trading card games at large are popular worldwide, and of them, Vanguard is currently most popular one. The show doesn’t shy away from showing off an alternative, Sengoku-era based card game with which the teacher apparently teaches history with. With this, the world building in Vanguard is surprisingly even handed for a show of this kind. In addition, there are no machines or magic to give form to the cards played. The card game Vanguard has no consequence to real life other than being a competitive game where you may lose or win, and do the same with things you may bet in it. Instead. these wonderful kids hanging out at the local card game store just use their imagination (quite intensely, even). This is probably the main point that makes this show endearing, other than the cute albino store keeper lady, who is just leaps and heads and years ahead of all the other girls available in card game advertisement shows, or even boy-targeted merchandise advertising shows in general, such as Beyblade.
Getting back to qualities of the show, the presentation of the rules at the beginning are slow and deliberately paced, perfectly as to be easily understood by a 7 year old, and to be frustratingly slow to an older audience member. The game itself seems to be quite bad, but so did YGO in its first entire story line, being only a shell of the actual game (which still isn’t great, but at least featuring enough complexity to play with strategy at all). Really, you wouldn’t do badly to watch the first couple of episodes if you’re having a slow day and there’s not much else to do.
Dragon Crisis: The other “Shana” genre show. I like Kugyu’s change of pace with Rose, since she’s been stuck doing tsundere for a long time. I’m sure plenty of people will still find her annoying, but I’m a doting brother who likes children, so *shrug*. There’s nothing special about it, but it definitely possesses that quality that is essential to a Shana: the building of the desire to see the further plot developments.
Beelzebub: It’s sort of funny, but not strongly so. However, I like the part where I can safely watch this with my sister, no worries at all. So I’ll probably end up sticking with it.
Gosick: I think Gosick is one of the shows where my principle of Zero Spoiler shines the most. Aside from the minuscule amounts of hearsay I inevitably accrue, I venture to learn as little as possible about the shows I will watch beforehand. Gosick is one show I managed to do this perfectly. Unlike many, who may have been hoping for a competent mystery anime, I went in with absolutely no idea what Gosick was going to be, should be, wants to be, or is. And the result of this? I enjoy it. The mysteries are undoubtedly trite, and not very difficult. This doesn’t hurt the believability though, since the detective who is puzzled by it seems like a complete moron. Ultimately, I am greatly hoping that this will be another excellent anime in the sort of Kurenai, where a young, pretty straight-laced guy takes care of a fairly naive girl who is very intelligent when it comes to a certain specialized knowledge, but is otherwise just another spoiled kid, for whom the guy must become a sort of father or brother figure. I must admit this sort of thing totally taps into my personal pleasures, primary of which is, well, doting on my sister. So shows like Gosick, which does it in a clean, platonic-oriented way (so far, anyways) get huge points from me. The mysteries, in that sense, are just a mere sideshow.
Rio: The second episode is much a repeat of the first: sloppy character design, boring personalities (not even generic or archetypal, just boring. I would find a haughty ojousama or tsundere or kuudere in much need to at least give this show a bit of spice), complete ignorance as to how to create suspense, and worst of all, complete failure to provide adequately racy or interesting fanservice or fanservice oriented gags/humour to make up for all of that. I find it hard to see any reason to really watch this show, especially when XEBEC has done much better with say, Ladies vs. Butlers, etc.
Madoka: The first episode left some doubts in me. The second washed them all away, fully confirming UroGen’s intention to craft a complex plot for Shinbo to use and arrange. That’s all I can really say, since I think the show’s best explained by just watching. That’s the fun of it, after all. Just don’t go in thinking the show will be like Hidamari Sketch.
Freezing: Despite any wariness I have for Korean produced manga, I must give the show one thing: its grasp for portraying brutality is great. And that is probably the thing that managed to engage me most. The oversized breasts are actually odious to me, and the personalities assembled so far are mostly just painful or boring. However, the ruthless onscreen bloodletting to the whole massive collection of women throughout is truly something that just makes the show stick out. Whatever trite fanservice is being offered is not even a sideshow. I’ll definitely stick around as long as it stays interesting and keeps the gritty feel in its combat (for which the second episode was kind of a disappointment).
OniiKoto: I already am a big fan of the manga, so I’m greatly enjoying the anime adaptation. The over-the-top, shameless humor continues at rapid pace. Nothing to complain about.
Kore wa Zombie desu ka?: I can’t find much to say, other than it has continued to be funny (and featuring COOL FANS). I don’t mind bad-mouth-the-main-character-all-the-time characters, so the vampire ninja doesn’t bother me. Overall, still great, though really, you could see how his RUINED FOR MARRIAGE was going to be solved from miles away.