Considering the abysmal showing of some anime last season, it’s hard not to think better of this season’s shows. But Spring is also a traditional season for powerhouse anime, and this time around certainly seems to have its fair share of decent to good shows. Now that we’re at the half way mark into the season, it’s about time for NHRV members to discuss their takes on currently airing series. What seems clear, at least, is that the breadth of genres covered this time around provides plenty of shows for all different kinds of anime fans to watch.
Introduction by: Kylaran
TypicalIdiotFan on Fireball Charming after 6 episodes
I don’t usually like watching anime that requires me to do a little research, but research I did and I found out that… hey, whaddyaknow?… there’s a first series of this just called “Fireball“. However, my research did nothing to help me figure out what the blithering hell this is supposed to be about. Six episodes in and all I can figure out is that this robot princess, or duchess, or whatever is a bit of an imbecile wrapped up more in what interests “her” each second. To help sort out the madness is her large single eyed robotic mentor who has as much accurate information as I have testicles. Hilarity is supposed to ensue when these two drop quick… and I do mean quick… banter back and forth about things they both barely understand.
Hey, the show features some nifty CG work, and Drossel’s robotic hips are enough to make Jennifer Lopez jealous. But what really is the point here? Someone just wants to show off some computerized scenery porn? Someone else proving that the Japanese can do another type of humor than random “anti-humor” and tsukkomi-boke routines? I don’t know. Since the episodes are so short, I can deal with it and actually enjoy it. But through it all, I’m still pretty damned confused.
Akira on Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko after 6 episodes
Denpa Onna represents a classic case of Shinbo being Shinbo, with the aesthetic choices heavily resembling those taken in Arakawa Under the Bridge. At the same time, Denpa Onna is a more carefully considered show. The drama between Erio and Makoto unfolds slowly and deliberately, a welcome change from the throwaway romances that characterize most recent offerings in the romantic comedy genre. It’s too bad, then, that the side characters are such throwaways – from Makoto’s annoying aunt, to the two classmates whose names I can’t even remember, the side characters in the show seem completely underutilized. Perhaps the director would do well to pay more attention to these side characters, or do away with them altogether, instead of having them occupy an awkward niche somewhere between dramatic foil and comedic relief.
AC on X-Men after 7 episodes
I’m not kidding when I say that this show hasn’t screwed itself up like Iron Man and Wolverine did. The show at least got it right with a satisfactory first episode. Moreover, the characters are quite loyal to their original Marvel counterparts: Cyclops, the focal character of the series, is the no-nonsense cerebral leader/hard-ass; Wolverine is the iconic gruff dude who doesn’t give a crap about the little things; and Beast is the furry mild-mannered brain of the team. The only problem is Storm, who doesn’t exhibit the expected kind of conviction or exude any unique idiosyncrasy as a second-in-command. Also, the animation quality can be inconsistent at times.
Remaining issues about X-Men include a forgettable band of throwaway villains and, more importantly, how the show under-utilizes the Hellfire Club arc as the precursor of the main plot (i.e. why not use the arc itself as the main plot). With that, I’d say that X-Men isn’t a terrible show; it’s only mediocre and forgettable at worst. If there are those who claim that it is horrible, it’s probably because they are listening to their inner fanboy biases.
Ascaloth on Hanasaku Iroha after 8 episodes
Given a strong start at the beginning of the season, which had many pegging it as a front-runner for Spring 2011, one cannot help but wonder just how HanaIro seems to have lost its way at this point. I mean, what exactly is this series trying to be? Sometimes it feels like HanaIro promised ARIA Lite, only to serve morsels of Fumoffu! Lite instead. The comic episodes aren’t half bad, in fact they never fail to put a smile on my face every time, but they are also momentum speed-bumps, and tend to feel a little out of place.
It doesn’t help that HanaIro takes an episodic approach to its storyline, leaving the overall narrative somewhat disjointed, and whatever drama this series manages to come up with tends to get resolved way too prematurely to make sufficient impact. Pretty visuals aside, it’s already looking like the latest in a long line of P.A. Works‘ underachievers; of course, given we’re only a quarter of the way into the series, there’s still a good chance I’ll have to eat my words yet. And when it does get good, as seen in the latest episode, it can get really good indeed.
TypicalIdiotFan on Tiger & Bunny after 7 episodes
I admit, I was expecting a bit more out of Tiger & Bunny based on the first couple of episodes. I was looking for a bit more corporate intrigue and/or cutthroatedness and I was certainly expecting a lot more sensationalist media commentary than we have gotten. Still, Tiger & Bunny has provided me oodles of entertainment thus far simply as a respectful homage to the western superhero mythos. Certain characters have very obvious influences. Barnaby “Bunny” Brooks is very much like a young and angsty Bruce “Batman” Wayne, aside from his acting the hero. He’s at least interesting.
Unfortunately, Tiger has been a bit of a letdown. He’s a cross between Every Shounen Fighting Lead Male Character Ever and Wolverine. Like Logan, he doesn’t really care to think things through and absolutely hates sitting around waiting for the people in charge mull over the situation. But his “I don’t really understand, but whatever!” nature makes him irritating. He’s supposed to be the veteran, but for the most part he comes off way too goofy to be taken seriously. Certainly does not work as a mentorish character, so he just ends up being kind of useless to the story. I’m sincerely hoping he ends up being a better character by the end of this.
Kylaran on Dog Days after 7 episodes
This anime takes the most innocent and unassuming of premises, attempts to making something out of it, and – fails miserably. I can’t tell whether this show is original or utterly generic; I suppose it deserves points for making war into a LARP competition between dogs and cats. What bothers me the most about this series is that not a single one of the characters truly has any semblance of content, each one of them about as empty as my stomach after a very bad night of shot Jenga. Just as an example, the viewer finds out that Princess Biscotti is concerned with the well-being of her kingdom, and yet she so easily completes her work as ruler (it feels more like her subjects are taking care of her than the other way around) to go off and play fetch with the protagonist. I know she’s supposed to be a dog anthropomorph and all, but the scenario writer definitely skipped a few steps in the characterization process.
Just one thing. I said this before, but the voice acting is fantastic. Especially Hocchan‘s role as Biscotti, which fits her voice perfectly. Sometimes I think this anime would make for a better drama CD or radio show than an actual series.
AC on The World God Only Knows II after 7 episodes
My first impression was that this just continues from the first season and it just offers more of the same thing… and I was spot-on. Whether TWGOK2 is enjoyable or not depends on how you perceive the first season: if you enjoyed it, then you will like ‘Part 2′ too. If you didn’t just like me, then be disappointed since there isn’t much difference. The girls that Katsuragi meet are still stereotypical; they’re the kind you see in eroge and dating sims… you know, the kind that you don’t often meet in real life. Sure, there’s a new shinigami on the block but she’s no different from the girls Katsuragi has encountered.
Both seasons of TWGOK suffer the same major flaw: they literally feed Katsuragi’s ego with clichéd girls. The problem isn’t his theories on real-life female behaviors per se – his high horse is supposed to be the appeal of TWGOK – but the fact that the show stales by continuously dumping him into situations that eventually prove his theories right. I actually hate that, so I’ll just take the only thing putting a smile on my face: Elsie’s cuteness and her love for fire engines.
Ascaloth on Nichijou after 7 episodes
Think the K-ON! series are as plotless as Kyoto Animation‘s “moeblob” shows come? Think again. Nichijou is probably what happens if one were to try min-maxing an anime series; maxing stats in “Absurdity” and “Moe”, and dumping stats in pretty much everything else. The entire series is pretty much nothing but gags and variations on gags, all of which can be very hit-and-miss. Pretty much the only consistent (heck, consistently good) thing about Nichijou would be the ED; it’s just so relaxing to listen to, in a way which watching the show itself isn’t.
Even I can find it a chore to watch sometimes, and I’m as infamous as KyoAni-shippers get. Yet, it still gets a couple of laughs from me, and I still keep watching it, for goodness knows what reasons even I am not aware of. It’s just that kind of show.
Shadowmage on Deadman Wonderland after 6 episodes
The way I see it, Deadman Wonderland a lot like High School of the Dead. Aside from The Matrix tits, the anime Deadman Wonderland is the best possible realization of its initially intriguing (but quickly disappointing) source material. Whereas High School of the Dead’s vice was tits and violence, Deadman Wonderland’s drug of choice is just blood spewing gore, but it has enough of it to be an amusing ride from hell.
The show is about prisoners with superpowers engaging in a vicious blood sport. Think Mortal Kombat with superhuman power involving psychic control of one’s blood. Losing means death, or if the opponent is merciful, it means getting a body part amputated sans painkillers. While this show had enough violence and a strong enough presentation that it could have had some traction with college aged Americans, it lacks one key ingredient: a character to cheer for. Ganta is like a boxer who goes to a corner and cries every time he gets hit in the face. He is unlikable and drags the show down more than anything else.
Akira on C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control after 5 episodes
C is problematic in more ways than one. Most prominently, the fight scenes in C don’t quite make sense. Faux-economic terms are thrown around haphazardly, and viewers never get a sense for what’s truly at stake in these fights. Since fight scenes in the “Financial District” make up a huge part of the show’s plot, one would think that the creators would have bothered to explain the rules of the game more fully in depth – or, perhaps, the fights themselves are a metaphor for the world of financial capitalism, with its incredibly convoluted set of rules. However, C’s “critique” (if one can even call it that) of the global financial regime rings hollow; it’s clear that if the writers did intend to critique global capitalism, they’re not doing a very good job of it.
AC on SKET Dance after 7 episodes
From the onset, SKET Dance looks like it’s nothing more than over-the-top shounen comedy. It concentrates more on delivering trains of gags and punchlines, and it’s a classic of hits and misses where the latter are more frequent than the former. What it doesn’t execute well is the breakneck pacing: even if it’s meant to be the show’s appeal, it’s too hectic and fast to be appreciated. When the gags aren’t funny, it also relies on formulaic resolution to every problem, and it begs the question on why the solution can’t be arrived at sooner.
But in the last two episodes, the show has taken a rather dramatic turn, literally and figuratively. While the hilarity is still there, the episodes have a more serious tone and the drama bodes with the comedy quite well. Plus, they showed that the characters aren’t the disposable type, and the series will probably dedicate some time to even develop them. Even though I personally think that the drama will play second fiddle to comedy eventually, to blend both in a show is a pleasant surprise and I want to see what other direction it shall take from here onwards.
Ascaloth on Steins;Gate after 7 episodes
Steins;Gate is basically sea salt ice cream; two flavours that have no business tasting great together, and yet somehow… does. Slow and confusing start to the season aside, the show has somehow melded a genuinely creepy time travel-detective premise, along with the over-the-top banter which the batshit-insane protagonist Okabe Rintarou (“Hououin… Kyouma da!”) shares with the other cast members (particularly Makise Kurisu), into a very compelling and entertaining story which teases the viewers with progressive revelations into the underlying conspiracy, while keeping things light-hearted with the gut-busting back-and-forth dialogue between the Lab Members of Future Gadgets Lab.
Truly, Steins;Gate has become a very promising dark horse of the season, and it is my second, if not the most anticipated Spring 2011 show every week. And of course, it also boasts the distinction of having only the second character in NHRV history able to make our resident badass Aussie Sorrow-kun go “HNNNGH!“. Distinctions don’t come much higher than that, after all.
TypicalIdiotFan on Astarotte no Omocha! after 6 episodes
Okay, you got me. You got me Haga Yui-sensei. You baited us all in with the most face-palm inducing pedolicious plot concept this side of Kodomo no Jikan, and then rolled back the curtain to reveal a sappy, saccharine sweet story about child neglect and parental transference. Way to go. Now, since you’ve got us watching this afterschool special, do me a favor and make it not boring and stupid as fuck.
Look, I get it. The situation in Japan with parents and kids and fucked up parenting and even more fucked up children is a concern. Hell, here in America, it’s not exactly hip to partake in Family Values if you’re not Mormon these days. But don’t create messy and convoluted situations involving fantasy creatures as characters and then make it all mirror exactly a standard Japanese society setting. Don’t have a middle-aged succubus… can succubi even be middle aged… get involved with some barely teenage waif just to force a plot wherein the main male character has a daughter of his own. Jesus. If there was any more forcing being done in this show Obi-Wan Kenobi would show up to let us know how strong it is.
AC on Oretachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai after 7 episodes
If I may ask the show just one question, it would be “What the hell are you trying to do here?” It’s because that’s what I really wanted to know right from the beginning. Is it going for fanservice? Comedy? Drama? A combination of fantasy and real-life? Or, as my gut feeling tells me, a bit of everything? If this is indeed the case, then putting everything into the blender and serving it cold is surely not the way to go. Every episode presents more questions than answers, and the story is gradually becoming more unintelligible.
The comedy falls flat on its face because it tries too hard to be funny, resulting in distasteful gags and punchline misses. The drama is completely ineffective when I don’t understand what the characters’ motivations at all. The fanservice is awfully cheap and distracting. The story is a plate of scrambled eggs. The half-decent OP and animation are possibly the only things that make this show barely watchable. Other than that, the show sits on the border between obnoxiousness and retardedness. If it insists on being incomprehensible, then so be it; I’ll treat it as dog doo.
Shadowmage on Ao no Exorcist after 5 episodes
A few episodes ago I would have been a bit more effusive about Ao no Exorcist, but the show has stabilized to what I like to call the “typical shounen action series” phase. There’s nothing particularly unique about the series, but the characters are likable and the presentation is enjoyable. The show is (so far) well paced and (so far) well animated, and as long as the series doesn’t continue forever it will likely be worth your time. The problem is that I don’t know if this is another Soul Eater with a fixed episode count or Bleach which will end with the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Kylaran on A-Channel after 7 episodes
I really disliked this show at first, but it’s starting to grow on me. When it comes to plot-less comedy anime, it’s critical to have enjoyable characters, although the character I thought was the weakest link at first, Tohru, ended up becoming a pivotal part of what holds the series together. Her antics in her own first year class are hilarious, as is her adoration for Run-chan; Run herself is hilarious and pairs well with the younger Tohru. Unfortunately, the two other characters in the main four person group are somewhat less developed seven episodes in, particularly Nagi since I have yet to see just what role she serves in the comedy. That, and the insert songs every episode are really, really bad.
Shadowmage on Kaiji S2 after 6 episodes
It’s rare that a show so thoroughly engages me that it warps the fabric of time and makes twenty four minutes feel like twenty four seconds. Kaiji S2 continues the story of the foolish but likable protagonist Kaiji as he struggles to pay off his debts through epic bouts of gambling. The pacing is slow, but the internal struggles, the moments of clairvoyance and the powerful analogies are as rock solid as ever.
If you have seen the first season, don’t worry about this being another Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino; the show is back in the hands of Madhouse and, thankfully, almost nothing changed. If you have not watched the first season, treat yourself to a legal alternative to crack cocaine with Kaiji.
Kylaran on Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai after 6 episodes
I completely agree with Sorrow-kun’s statement that the first episode ushered in comparisons with other great anime, but I think that AnoHana has set itself apart enough from other anime both current and past. Each and every character in the series is unique, and they all have a role to play in their dynamic but now dysfunctional family. Menma is a powerful symbol of the weighty past that each of these teenagers share, and her place in the narrative as a spark for Jintan’s change of attitude and behavior is what sets the entire series in motion. In addition, the show has a delightful ending theme song that cues in at just the right times.
Perhaps what this anime does best is the realism. The director has a knack for identifying and focusing on tiny little aspects of everyday life, using them to symbolize the characters’ emotions through the most normal of objects. Ripe with powerful cinematography to back up the narrative drama, this series is also my pick for the best of the season.
TypicalIdiotFan on Dororon Enma-kun Meramera after 7 episodes
I’ve said this to just about everybody else who’s tried to watch this remake of a mid 1970′s not-really-classic show: “It’s Go Nagai.” I realize that isn’t saying much to the uninitiated, but to those in the know, you really shouldn’t need more than that. Go Nagai’s animation forte involves the ridiculous bordering upon the insane. There’s no real rhyme or reason to it. The guy just does whatever he thinks is funny. He’s like Japan’s Carrot Top. Sometimes he forces shit together and you wonder what the hell was in his head that day. Sometimes he’s funny.
What all this means is quite simple: expect lots of childish sexual innuendo and toilet humor, ridiculous villains, even more ridiculous heroes, and a whole lot of “WTF”. Go Nagai barely makes any sense as it is, but have someone else do a remake of one of his old shows and it makes even less sense. Enma-kun is formulaic, but you really don’t care since it’s too stupid to take seriously. If you are taking this seriously, back away from the computer and go read Dickens.
Shadowmage on Hidan No Aria after 5 episodes
The only way I can stand to watch this show is to see it as a Japanese parody of Hollywood action movies. The protagonist is your typical reserved badass, Kinji, who gets hooked up with a hot chick, Aria, and they go off in pulse-pounding adventures together. Of course, this being a Japanese parody, the hot chick is a Kugimiya Rie tsundere loli, and she is just one girl of a decent sized harem.
The episodic stories include a bicycle with a bomb attached, a hijacked airplane and various other absurd scenarios coming to a theater near you. Each episode finds itself repeating Hollywood tropes ad nauseam, not forgetting the really, really stupid creations of the industry. This has a particularly egregious scene where Kinji holds a knife against a girls throat and threatens to give her a new windpipe if she moves… which she does, nearly killing Aria, breaking free and running away. Perhaps Kinji needed that girl need to be alive for him to get his 100% harem completion, or perhaps the writer forgot that Kinji had a knife against her throat, but the creators made damn sure that the outcome of standoffs is as unpredictable (and logically improbable) as humanly possible.
Akira on Maria Holic Alive after 6 episodes
Maria Holic Alive has done the impossible— it’s made me lose interest in the show. Despite being a great fan of the show during its original run, Maria Holic Alive has not managed to improve upon the formula which made Maria Holic so enjoyable the first time around. Instead, we have more of the same old jokes without any movement in either plot or development. The jokes do not become more sophisticated as time goes on – they remain just as simple. As the show exhausts its comedic routines, set-ups become more and more absurd – and the humor becomes more random and without focus. The end result is a disaster of a show, with few genuinely hilarious moments. Maria Holic Alive has fallen quite far from the original freshness of Maria Holic, and stands as a cautionary tale for complacent directors who seek to cash in on sequels by simply making more of the same show.