Winter Season Mini Review (First Impressions)

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Shokkeru here. Back after a long hiatus with a mini review of various shows of the Winter Season. Keep in mind that these are merely my impressions based on the first episodes of these series.

Today’s Menu:
Baka to Test to Shokanju
Dance in the Vampire Bund
Durarara!!
Ookami Kakushi
Seikon no Qwaser


baka_test_02
Baka to Test to Shokanju
Students are divided into six different classes based upon their placement exams. Each class serves as a ranking within the school ranging from rank A all the way down to rank F. The facilities in each class are also a reflection of their rank with rank A being the luxurious suite and rank F being the run-down shack. Classes may also battle other classes in order to have their classrooms changed using summoned avatars. The power level of these avatars are based upon the student’s test scores, thus motivating the student to do better theoretically.

The Good:
-Test scores are the key to victory!: I kind of like the idea behind this series. Having students’ battle powers be based on how well they score on tests certainly does seem like an interesting idea. If only our education system was like this, maybe some people would be more motivated to do well in school… maybe.

-Transformation!: While some of the character archetypes are rather cliché, I still find them enjoyable. Hideyoshi being the obvious trap character even has his own “mahou shoujo” transformation scene. My favorite characters so far have to be the clever Yuuji, who appears to always have a plan and the perverted Kouta, who tries so desperately to sneak a peek.

The Bad:
-Idiot Main Character: I understand that these guys are supposed to be the “worst” students in the school (one of them being the obvious exception) but Yoshii is a little too dumb for my tastes. Not to mention, his summon seems to be a bit useless as well.

Verdict:
Not too shabby even though the first episode did seem a little rushed… well maybe not. Regardless, this is a show that I probably will continue to watch if not for the character interactions then for the interesting battles.


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Dance in the Vampire Bund
Thanks to a series of murders where young females are left with bite marks on their necks, rumors begin to surface of the actual existence of vampires. The rumor makes its way onto a TV show where five judges decide whether or not it’s true based on discussions and evidence presented to them. Despite the notion that vampires are not real, one of the judges turns out to be a vampire himself. He is then pursued by other vampires as well as the vampire princess herself. After disposing of the “criminal”, the princess, Mina Tepes, officially announces the existence of vampires and their new home.

The Good:
-It’s SHAFT: I’ll be honest, if it wasn’t for the fact that SHAFT is producing this, I probably wouldn’t have given this a chance. The first episode was a bit slow paced, character designs are a little bland and I wasn’t sure what to think during the whole TV show portion of the episode. But, in the end, it did turn out to be something interesting and I’ll have to check out the next episode for sure.

The Bad:
-What is that, an iguana?: Vampires are cool an all, but transforming into lizards wasn’t something I expected. I understand that this guy happens to be one of the lesser vampires, but I hope not all of them turn into lame animals.

Verdict:
It wasn’t a spectacular first episode, but I’ll be checking out the second for sure.


durarara_02
Durarara!!
Mikado Ryugamine moves to Ikebukuro to attend a new school with his childhood friend Masaomi Kida. When he arrives, Masaomi takes him around town showing him the sights and introducing him to a few acquaintances. While taking his tour of the city, Mikado happens to be “lucky” enough to see the appearance of what appears to be a modern day headless horseman (except that it’s female and rides on a motorcycle).

The Good:
-Awesome OP: The OP for the series is just so cool. It’s probably my favorite of this season so far. Very hip indeed.

-So many characters you won’t know what to do with.: Just judging based on the OP sequence, the amount of characters that would appear in this show is just amazing. Some may see it as a bad thing just by having to keep up with all the names and such, but I for one think it opens up a lot more possibilities with character interactions. Let’s just hope I’m right.

-We’re just so hip and cool.: I just absolutely love the character designs but then again I am a sucker for a lot of things urban themed in anime.

The Bad:
-Are we there yet?: This seems to be a trend amongst shows recently. The first episode just seemed to go by so slowly for me. It seems that they spent a lot of time explaining things while not really explaining anything at all. We got to meet a few of the characters and the modern day headless motorcyclist in action, but despite all that, I’m still not sure what this whole show is about. In short, I kind of feel annoyed by having to wait till episode 2 to fully understand the basic flow of the series.

Verdict:
Definitely a candidate for one of the best shows this season. I’m watching this show till the end and may even end up blogging it if I find the time to.


ookami_02
Ookami Kakushi
Hiroshi Kuzumi and his family move into the town of Jouga (seems to be a popular opening to a story) where everyone seems to be more than welcome of his arrival. The town is divided into the old town and the new town and apparently residents of each are not too fond of each other. At night it seems that people are killed off by a strange wolf cult just before going mad.

The Good:
-Something’s strange in the neighborhood.: I got to admit, I can’t say no to a good mystery. Despite the mood the beginning part of the episode conveyed, you could feel the eeriness of the entire town especially when all the of the students were drooling over our main protagonist. It had a very “Twilight Zone” feel to it. However, I have a feeling that it’s going to take a majority of the series to find out just what the hell is going on in this town.

The Bad:
-Too sweet for my tastes.: I’m not a fan of the character designs at all. They’re much too cutesy for me and I find it very hard to watch the show because of it.

Verdict:
I don’t know if I’ll be watching this show for very long. The only thing keeping me attached to it is simply the mystery itself. Once that’s solved, I may not care for the rest of the show… if I even make it that far.


qwaser_02
Seikon no Qwaser
Alexander “Sasha”, a Qwaser, is able to manipulate metal (Iron I think) and use it however he wishes. He does this in order to chase down a criminal who can control magnesium. What fuels their powers, you ask? Why it’s Soma of course… in other words, breast milk…

The Good:
-At least the main character is kind of badass?: The only reason why I decided to even try this show was because of the main character and just how badass he looked. I also liked the idea of alchemy. But sadly, this alone won’t save this show.

-Ending theme is catchy.: The ED song is actually kind of good even though the visuals are quite questionable… well nothing compared to the actual content of the show.

The Bad:
-Seriously? Breast milk?: I heard that breast milk as a main plot device for the series, but I never imagined to this extent. Now it just seems to be an excuse to show as much boobies as one possibly can and still try to take itself seriously. I mean breast feeding to power up just seems a bit wrong does it not? Not to mention all the other fanservice in this show just disgusts me and I’ve watched and read To-Love-Ru all the way through.

-Censorship is bad ‘mkay?: Fanservice is one thing, but I absolutely cannot stand censorship. If the show is bad enough that you’d have to censor 1/3 of it then you might as well not show it at all. Not to mention that the censoring job on this was so terribad. However, I do hear that there will be an uncensored version airing 2 week after the censored version. So, if you still want to feel a little hot and bothered, you can get your jollies there.

Verdict:
A big no thanks on this one. I may just watch the uncensored version just to see how bad it is and for a few laughs, but other than that, I’m staying away from this one.

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24 Comments

  1. helen
    Posted January 12, 2010 at 4:42 am | Permalink

    “What is that, an iguana?”

    lol – my thoughts exactly

  2. Posted January 12, 2010 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    So far BakaTest and Durarara!! are my top picks for the season for similar reasons to yourself – looking forward to the 2nd eps.

  3. Cherubium
    Posted January 12, 2010 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    Baka Test and Durarara (omfg how many ras are there in the title? -_-“) are the only shows im picking up this season. Anything else either wants me to grate my eyes (fanservice) out or carve my arm just to watch it (Anything else)

    The lack of Mecha is taking its toll. Thank god for shows like Kimi ni Todoke, Letter Bee and the long running Shonen Shows is keeping me in the realm of the Otaku.

  4. Hogart
    Posted January 12, 2010 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    Baka Test is basically crap, regardless of it’s half-decent visuals. The premise is so laughable that I can only assume it’s a mediocre parody show. It just shows how desperate we are for anime comedy after 2009 came and went without much to make us laugh. Sora no Woto and Durarara are the only things I’m holding out much hope for, and maybe Kanagatari and Bund (if the latter actually tries, given it’s sad excuse for a first episode).

  5. fizz
    Posted January 12, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Baka Test had me up until the point where class A challenged them. Then it reminded me of every underdog kids sports movie formula. The underdog is always beaten to a pulp by the top team so they can measure themselves, see Mighty Ducks et al.

    And yes, that Iguana scene was ridiculous. My exact thought process went: wow you are ugly, and this is completely ridiculous. Why would a vampire transform into an ugly lizard.

    I’m losing hope in this season. Thankfully, Kimi no Todoke and FMA are still going. And, Durarara has a lot of potential. Qwasar has a puncher’s chance to be good – but the censoring is kinda ridiculous. Why do I want to look at crows for minutes at a time?

  6. rpd
    Posted January 12, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    breast milk? seriously? it’s like they took the horrible yumeria and put it on a level upper

  7. Posted January 12, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Cool mini reviews, think i am only following Durarara!! , dance of the vampire and baka test. Qwazar was a bit odd but i agree censorship is bad on that show..

    Lawl at iquana i was like uh? /shrug at least they don’t sparkle >.>

  8. Posted January 12, 2010 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    @helen: It’s either an iguana or a chameleon… I’m still not sure and I’m too lazy to look it up.

    @Caraniel: Durararararararararararararararara!!!!

    @Cherubium: When there isn’t a mecha show for every season I start to cry myself to sleep. And yes, Durarararararara!! will be one of my top picks this season.

    @Hogart: Sora no Woto was good. I just didn’t include it since two other bloggers here already wrote about it. Only reason I’m still hanging onto Vampire Bund is because it’s SHAFT and I know they could do better.

    @fizz: I’m betting you’re right about the Baka Test thing (I haven’t read the light novels at all). I thought it was kind of strange that they already got challenged by the top class since it didn’t follow standard shounen style manga/anime where they have to climb to the top before even touching the elites. But now that I think about it, they are probably going to get smashed into the ground even with a genius on their side.

    @rpd: Not familiar with Yumeria, but I’m guessing it’s almost as bad as Qwaser is going to be?

    @foshizzel: My thoughts exactly on the non-sparkliness of the vampires… thank god!

    • Posted January 13, 2010 at 3:17 am | Permalink

      @ Shokkeru and Hogart: You really think, So Ra No Wo To was that good? I mean, heeeey, it’s war and we all can have sooo much fun. Yay! Oh, and don’t forget, we all look exactly like the mains in K-ON!

      For a war anime I’d like just a bit more story. Still havent seen episode 2, maybe it gets better. Does it?

      • Posted January 13, 2010 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

        I thought it was okay for a first episode. I like the premise and think it has some potential. I’m just curious as to where the series might go from here. The whole K-ON look a like thing does throw me off a bit since I’ve long been tired of K-ON. I haven’t seen episode 2 yet either if it’s even out yet, but I’m hoping it does get better.

  9. Cherubium
    Posted January 12, 2010 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    I would say that it would be a Chameleon in Vampires Bund because his eyes could look at two things at once.

    Bakatests shows that some of the A class members know of the F class people like purple hair girl and red hair guy. I wonder if there will any shonen-ai with the trap this season?

    • Posted January 12, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

      Yeah the eyes are a dead give away that it’s a chameleon as opposed to an iguana. I should have noticed that sooner.

      Seeing as how everyone treats Hideyoshi as a female, I wouldn’t be surprised if there will be any BL going on.

  10. Kah
    Posted January 13, 2010 at 1:03 am | Permalink

    I think that the lead character Yoshii in baka test actually has his wits about him, despite being academically bottom rank. Whats-her-name… Himeji however appears to be terminally stupid.

    • Posted January 13, 2010 at 1:57 am | Permalink

      I’m not sure… After seeing his performance when he summoned his little avatar, I can’t help but think that he’s actually very stupid or at least clumsy. At least Himeji has book smarts.

  11. enjointhis
    Posted January 13, 2010 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Agree about the Durarara OP – and I thought the animation sequence was one of the best I’ve seen … ever. But I still can’t comprehend the infatuation with Baka no Test. Ugh.

    • Posted January 13, 2010 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

      I really just liked the overall style of the OP in Durarararararara!! From the freeze-frame character introductions with their names blasted in the background to the catchy theme song, everything was just stylistically awesome.

  12. Emperor
    Posted January 13, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Baka to Test to Shokanju
    -well start was funny but that system is not my taste… the only reason why they fight is to get better classroom than battle interest itself
    Dance in the Vampire Bund
    – well than one made me laugh…3/4 of episode boring…. I mean ehm ehm twilight and that crap -_- I’m sure they were inspired….
    Durarara!!
    -hmm nothing much at least first episode … I don’t know headless rider …. might be interesting later…
    seems like tokyo is ticket to the endless dreams and fairytales…
    Seikon no Qwaser
    -well similar opinion … seemed like badass anime but that milk drinking OMG … It could have been done million other ways but why milk omg ….
    So, so far my favorite of the season is ladies vs butlers hehe ><

    • Posted January 13, 2010 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

      Haven’t tried Ladies vs Butlers at all, but I heard the fanservice was worse than Qwaser…

      • Emperor
        Posted January 14, 2010 at 5:18 am | Permalink

        Well it depends on what verison you have censored or not ,but you won’t be looking 1/3 of episode on windows and everything around … I like it cose it’s slightly funny, nice animation. moral and mannerly Kuroko,well her voice on main char :D , one evil ,wicked girl ,harem and that stuff which comes along… ^^

  13. JohnG
    Posted January 16, 2010 at 12:05 am | Permalink

    BakaTest 2 is out and it didn’t turn out how people here seemed to predict. It was pretty funny and i’m impressed with how long they carried out the table gag.

    • Posted January 16, 2010 at 12:17 am | Permalink

      Just saw it as well. I had the feeling that it would turn out the way it did since this is a underdog story after all. What I am surprised about is that they actually had some members who could hold their own against class A students in certain subjects. I think I’ll follow Baka to Test a little while longer.

  14. Erica B =-.-=
    Posted March 15, 2010 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    The Seikon no Qwaser is the weird show i have ever watch I think it’s on episode 8 right now, I’ve watcfh up to this point and still do not get the whole story to it, Is it about the apostles,angels, devils, alchemist, virgin mary or some kinda dude who likes breast. I mean come on I get that he uses it for energy but sheesh don’t show that much of it, way to much INFO / DETAIL.

    • Erica B =-.-=
      Posted March 15, 2010 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      Almost forgot Dance in a vgampire Bund is exactly as I imagined it, as a dedicated fan of the manga series, Hope that they complete the whole series and don’t stop half way through like with D.Gray man.

  15. GPrieto
    Posted June 23, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    ‘Seikon no Qwaser’ is one of the worst series of the last season. Leaving aside the euphemisms thumbed (fanservice, ecchi, etc), this series can only be described as pornographic. That is the kinda crap that makes me ashamed to like Anime.

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