Spring 2013 First Thoughts

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The spring season is upon us! Maybe my expectations are low, but it’s been a fun start so far. We’ve had controversy (my quota for reading the word “rotoscoping” has been filled for a decade), insanity (Valvrave throwing out every ridiculous twist under the sun), comedy, drama, tons of sequels and even the world’s first time capsule anime (Sparrow’s Hotel was clearly buried in 1993 and unearthed 20 years later). Are there any standouts among the pack? Do the best look extra good because they’re surrounded by mediocrity? Or are there some true gems gleaming in the rough?

Introduction by: Shinmaru

Aku no Hana

Shinmaru’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 4
Initial Impression: B

I have a weakness for stories that paint the years of puberty as black comedy and horror. Aku no Hana scratches that itch nicely, with Nakamura’s ceaseless, gleeful torment of Kasuga during his struggle to appeal to a girl he has worshiped for quite a while. The sense of dread and stagnation the series has built is excellent; this town is one that feels sterile and stifling. Unfortunately, I can’t ignore the elephant in the room: the rotoscoping. For me, it works OK some times and not well others. There are shots where the characters look ugly in a good way, and others where they look ugly in a laughable way. It’s a risk that occasionally pays off. It’s not enough to lessen my enjoyment of everything else the series does well.

Attack on Titan

Shadowmage‘s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 4
First Impression: B+

Attack on Titan is a shounen action anime that starts off with a resounding bang, falls into the lull of a training arc then goes back to its fireworks a mere 3 episodes later.  Out of all the action anime to come out in the last couple years, this feels the most fresh.  The whole killing giant humanoid monsters using Spiderman hookshots concept is something truly new.  With director Araki Tetsurou at the helm, the show has as much subtlety as a jackhammer in a library, but the story is obviously aiming for an over the top action series, and the man knows how to deliver.

Kakumeiki Valvrave

Reckoner’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 3
Initial Impression: C

Be prepared to check your suspension of belief at the door because everything about Valvrave is absolutely preposterous. In the same vein of other mecha titles such as Code Geass, it is the rule of cool that that dominates the proceedings. And just like it often is in Code Geass, the utter absurdity of the events unfolding on screen can be an absolute blast to watch. Still in the end, there is not a whole lot of substance to be found in Valvrave. The characters and the story are not very compelling, and the direction of the show is still very uncertain. Valvrave can be entertaining, just make sure to turn off your brain while watching.

HentaiOuji

Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko

AC’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 3
Initial Impressions: C-

This show is made up of 3 characters: a pervert, a neko girl and a tsundere. Yes, this is basically one made of tropes. It tells a story about how this trio have switched their facades out of their wishes, but I’m not sure if that’s the real agenda. The plot feels like an elaborate device to mask what I feel is the show’s true objective: to gratify the viewers with moe and cats. It’s a very cute show but a very senseless one too, and everything about it is either clichéd or stupid.

Arata Monogatari

TIF’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen:  3
Initial Impression:  C

I’m not a Yuu Watase fan, but even before I knew this was one of her works, I had yaoi and fujoshi-bait warning klaxons going off in my brain.  Still, it hasn’t been BAD, though I wouldn’t call it good, either.  I’m not sure if the series has actually hit its stride yet, with all three of these episodes focusing on building up the situation that Arata finds himself in.  Hell, we don’t even know what the point of him being a Shinsho is yet.  The animation quality is sub-par far too often.  Studio Satelight may not care enough for this production to do more, but itcouldn’t hurt to have something pretty to look at until we get to the fucking point.

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru

Reckoner’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 4
Initial Impression: C

My immediate impression of SNAFU is that it feels like a more intelligent Haganai. Both series deal with a bunch of social misfits who have no friends, but unlike Haganai which is plagued by unsavory fanservice and is steeped heavily in otaku humor, this anime is more approachable and likeable. The bantering between Yukino and Hachiman is easily the highlight of the show so far; much of their dialogue is sharp, witty and humorous.  If there is one area that weakens SNAFU considerably though, it would be its lackluster production values and direction which do little to accentuate its content.

Sparrow’s Hotel

Shinmaru’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 3
Initial Impression: C-

On the one hand, watching this series makes me feel as if I’ve traveled back in time to 1995 in a bad/hilarious way. There’s little to no animation to speak of; even cherry blossoms glide to the ground in a stilted, erratic way. When Sayuri, the muscle of Sparrow’s Hotel, leaps out to beat up rabblerousers, the scenes have always been accompanied by raucous laughter from me. It’s a truly awful production, visually. On the other hand, it’s so short (each episode is three minutes) and inoffensive (even the jokes about big breasts are more dopey than creepy) that I can’t get angry at it. It’s a goofy, dumb series that I will continue to watch for some reason. Maybe I need three minutes of utter stupidity every week.

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Photo Kano

Arabesque’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 3
Initial Impression: D

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some expectations from this show. It mainly had to do with the creative muscle behind it, and the source being from Enterbrain whose other offerings I had greatly enjoyed. Sadly, there is much left to be desired. While some photographic techniques are interesting to watch it’s difficult to say the same about the rest of the visuals. At times the show ends up being a vehicle to showcase some cheesecake with the remaining time being filler until we get to the next situation that promotes another risqué shot to be taken. Sure, it’s nice looking cheesecake, but that makes me question the point of watching the show when just looking at screenshots gives the same result.

Suisei no Gargantia

Shadowmage‘s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 4
First Impression: B+

Ever seen Waterworld?   Suisei no Gargantia is a science fiction piece set in a post-apocalyptic setting where planet Earth is submerged in water, and humanity lives on massive boats.  This quaint little world is shaken up when a single soldier from a super advanced human race that escaped Earth in the distant past falls from the sky in his robot.  The show is actually an entertaining though slightly underwhelming piece about a clash of cultures and trying to bridge different views on how to live.  The show isn’t anything special yet, but it’s a novel action series that has the potential to hit on something more profound.

Devil Survivor 2

Arabesque’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 3
Initial Impression: C-

As much as I like Seiji Kishi’s work as director most of the time, it is hard to shake off the feeling of tribulation when he is at the helm of another Megami Tensei adaption. That said, early signs do show that this might make for a decent watch. Having not played the original game I’m unsure how this anime holds up in terms of faithfulness, but I can say that it doesn’t feel like a determinant. It might be beneficial since you have no idea when a powerful moment might hit you. What is worrying is that it’s set to be a single cour only, which might not be enough to cover the full story.

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The Severing Crime Edge

Arabesque’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 3
Initial Impression: A+

With a charmingly absurd premise and lovely chemistry between the two leads, I can’t find a fault here. The focus on hair can be viewed as strange, though it isn’t as obnoxious as seeing fictional breasts plastered on screen. Personally I found it to be done in a very sensational manner and I would even go as far to say that there is a poetic touch the series as a whole. It manages to tie together all of its plot threads into a strong narrative, and gives purpose to each event that lead into the next. Add to that a strong audiovisual direction and the result is among the best the season has to offer.

Yuyushiki

kevo’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 3
Initial Impression: B

Yuyushiki is the formula of a “show about nothing” executed as well as you possibly can. The cast is balanced nicely — the girls are cute and have their own unique personalities that mesh together nicely. The jokes are typical sitcom fare, but they work well. I wish they used the gimmick of the girls being in the “Data Processing Club” more often. I find the concept of the three girls sitting in the computer lab looking things up on Google quite entertaining. Either way, Yuyushiki has plenty of time to go in whatever direction it likes. It’s hardly the second coming of YuruYuri, but Yuyushiki is about as good as they come.

Space Battleship Yamato 2199

Shinmaru’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 14
Initial Impression: A

Episodes have been released on Blu-ray for a while, but they’re airing on TV now, so there! Anyway, this is seriously challenging JoJo as series of the year for me. The characters on both sides of the conflict are well-written and interesting, the show is gorgeous, and the stories both advance the plot well and are interesting standalone episodes with tons of variety. There are great space battles, emotional episodes of introspection, surreal freakouts and spins on classic science-fiction scenarios. Perhaps the most interesting part of the show is its shades of gray; there are good and bad people on both sides, and the conflict is not a black and white affair. Yamato 2199 is great drama.

HaiyoreNyaruko-sanW

Haiyore! Nyaruko-san W

AC’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 3
Initial Impressions: C

The first season shows how this series love to whip out parodies and references to other anime titles just for the sake of it, and the second season isn’t doing anything different. It’s still the same plotless story of a rambunctious group of kids and their outlandishly random adventures. The humor is made up of more misses than hits, and things are becoming boring since this season brings nothing new to the table. If the first season pushed your buttons, then this season will do the job again. Otherwise, you’re not missing anything big or new so just move along.

Azazel-san. Z

Arabesque’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 4
Initial Impression: A-

Returning with its brand of gruesome black humour, the second season of Azazel-san offers the same as the last season. I still enjoy watching this series and find it hilarious, despite normally not having an appetite for gory comedy. Watching what effectively is a plush toy become bloody road kill or exploding buttocks in such graphic fashion gets out of me a laugh when it should be by all rights make cringe. I worry that they are taking things a bit too far this season, and  the dichotomy between the hilarity and awfulness of the situations shown is shattered and things aren’t as funny any longer.

Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S

Shadowmage‘s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 3
First Impression: C+

At 24 episodes, the first Toaru Kagaku no Railgun felt a bit long on the tooth, but now that it’s been a couple years, the old feels new again.  Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S starts off as if the original never left the air with the same characters, antics and situations.  The show has a very pleasant formula going for it, and Railgun S is hitting the right notes.  The main problem with the show is that the OP makes the direction of the story too blaringly clear, and the script is tacking on obvious hints with annoying frequency.  Dear God, leave me in peace with the whole cute girls doing Railgun things, or get to the main plot already.

Hayate no Gotoku! Cuties

TIF’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen:  3
Initial Impression:  D+

It’s Hayate, still using the jarringly different animation style from the awful film, so I really can’t give it anything higher than this.  The franchise has run its course, and the first anime series (Can’t Take My Eyes Off You) offered nothing new of substance.  That being said, this particular series utilizes a format that might just work for most fans.  Basically each episode focuses on one of the thousands of Hayate characters, typically the girls (hence: “Cuties”).  As a throwaway series, it works just fine giving each character, and thus that character’s wanking fanbase, some focus time.  For me, though, this is just uninteresting dreck.

OrenoImoutoS2

Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai.

AC’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 3
Initial Impressions: C

I don’t have a little sister, and after watching the first season of Ore no Imouto, perhaps I’m better off without one. The first season introduced to the world an obnoxious little sister by the name of Kirino, and the second season continues to show why she’s one of the most unlovable little sisters in anime. The show can whip up something smart once in a while in its references to otaku hobbies, but still I find it hard to watch simply because of unlikable characters. If only there are more likable characters, especially female ones, then perhaps I may find it less of a chore to follow it.

Mushibugyo

TIF’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen:  3
Initial Impression:  C+

“Mushi” means “bug”.  So if your brain works like mine does, you can space out that title and get a stupid little bonus gag: “Mushi = bug, yo”.  Anyway, as a series set in feudal Japanese times, the monster hunting aspect works fairly well.  Sure, there’s plenty of ridiculous scenes of slicing twenty foot long bugs in half in a single stroke with a two foot katana, but these are the kinds of things we’ve come to just accept from anime.  Thankfully, the goofy main character keeps the show from being drivel, though the side characters can fuck right off.

Date a Live

Reckoner’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 3
Initial Impression: F

Honestly, I have nothing against harems, but Date a Live is easily some of the most uninspired, contrived bullshit of the season. The plot is obviously made to be ludicrous, but at times it takes itself way too seriously for a show of its kind. If they are going to be so obviously cynical in their moronic moe pandering, they could at least try to make this fun. Even stuff like the action is ridiculously bland and boring to watch. The main character being as dull as bricks does not help its cause one bit. Just avoid this show altogether and I guarantee you will retain more of your brain cells.

Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince

Shadowmage‘s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 4
First Impression: D+

I don’t consider myself too stringent when it comes to suspension of disbelief.  As a person who tries to keep up with new anime, it is practically a requirement to master the art of swallowing whatever bowl of battiness Japan decides to serve up next.  All I ask is that the superficial pretense that drives the core narrative is somewhere in the neighborhood of plausible; however, Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince asks just a bit too much.  To not mince words, this show is stupid.  I mean born with a chunk of bone in the brain dumb.  The CGI fight scenes are actually quite engaging, but I wish I could truly feel the characters fire hot rage burning in their epic souls.  I just don’t.

hatarakumaousama

Hataraku Maou-sama!

Shinmaru’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 4
Initial Impression: B-

Maou-sama definitely surprised me at the start. It had the chance to be fun due to the premise’s silliness, but the humor has been far sharper than expected. The characters are also fun; their expressiveness is a particular highlight. Emi alone provides a bevy of wonderful faces. If Maou-sama were just a fish out of water comedy, I’d probably be satisfied. The latest episode gives me pause, however. Given the premise, it was only a matter of time before drama showed up, but what’s been presented is of little interest. I hope the drama either improves or at least doesn’t overshadow the comedy.

Namiuchigiwa no Muromi-san

TIF’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen:  4
Initial Impression:  A-

See, this is how 4koma need to be treated from here on out.  No, I don’t know if Muromi-san’s original manga was a 4koma, I’m just saying this is how it needs to go, dammit.  Clocking in at roughly 11 minutes per episode (including the fantastically awful OP), Muromi-san manages to get through a typical comic arc, cutting through a lot of unnecessary bullshit, and getting straight to the gags.  It features a stellar voice cast (Yukari Tamura, Mai Nakahara, Chiwa Saito, etc) who really know how to have fun with the random comedy.  Shit is utterly ridiculous, but a lot of fun so far.

Red Data Girl

Reckoner’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 4
Initial Impression: B

It has been a slow build thus far, but it has become increasingly clear that RDG is one of this season’s best prospects. At the core of this show, are Izumiko and Miyuki who share one of this season’s most fascinating and dynamic relationships. Their outward personalities could not be any more different, Miyuki is quite brash and boisterous while Miyuki is more meek and reserved, but they both seek independence in their lives from their parents and birth circumstances. Additionally, the supernatural events surrounding Izumiko add an extra layer of mystery, drama, and intrigue to their interactions that I have found absolutely delicious.

Zettai Boei Leviathan

TIF’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen:  4
Initial Impression:  B+

Veteran director Kenichi Yatani knows how to handle his off-beat comedy shows, because through four episodes of watching this I get the same sense of relaxed humor that I would from Tenchi Muyo.  Basically, a cheeky fairy (voiced by KanaHana) tries to recruit three dragon-girls to help save the world.  It hasn’t gone very well so far, and she’s not trying very hard either.  It is understandable when everyone involved is easily distracted by other situations and side quests that pop up, and for some reason whatever they do ends up in the destruction of the local tavern.  Light hearted and really funny in places so far.  Episode 3 in particular is a peach.

4 Responses to “Spring 2013 First Thoughts”

  1. […] Also, if you haven’t checked out our first impressions of currently airing anime, be sure to do so over on our blog! […]

  2. As far as Devil Survivor 2, it’s a terrible adaptation, so fans of the game (like me) aren’t too thrilled about it either. Space Battleship Yamato Challenging Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure? Consider it watched then!

  3. Devil Survivor 2 is probably the worst adaptation of anything I’ve seen yet, save Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, so, no, it’s pretty bad. I’m a huge fan of the game, mind you, and I wouldn’t pay a dollar for this trash.

  4. @gedata & @Kiniest

    I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that anime adaptions of JRPG’s are all crap. I don’t think they translate well to screen. Playing a game is very different from watching a television show.

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