Now that we’re about half way through the first week of the new season, some fairly brief thoughts on the ten shows I’ve watched so far. There have been some surprises, some have been as expected so far, and two I’ve instantly dropped. But I’ve come away from the first episodes mildly optimistic overall. So, organized roughly in the three categories I put shows into after watching the first episodes, here are my initial impressions. Since I’m covering so many shows in one post, I’ll attempt to keep my thoughts on each brief.
Definitely Watching – Right From the Start Good
Shows that seemed promising enough based just on their first episodes that barring some massive trainwreck or change, I’ll be watching for the rest of the season.
Shinrei Tantei Yakumo
Nothing says ‘badass’ like having a casual chat on top of a burning building.
Two sentence summary: Ogawa Haruka, a university student, seeks the help of a student who claims to be able to see ghosts after two of her friends die following a ‘test of courage’ in an abandoned school building. Saitou Yakumo agrees to help, and together with a contact in the police department he’s able to use his powers to solve the murders, while elsewhere there are hints of a larger supernatural intrigue going on.
Thoughts: Has a serious and dark atmosphere and it’s paced slowly to maintain that sense of mystery and intrigue. That may not appeal to everyone, but I tend to love series with that sort of pacing. It’s also nice that the characters are university students instead of the usual high school ones for once. Overall it left me excited for to see more, and there wasn’t really anything I disliked about it. Haruka could use some character development/exposition, but she didn’t irritate me either. On the downside, the initial mystery was pretty simple, but the opening case/mission/fight/etc of most anime usually is since it’s more of a means to introduce the characters and setting than anything else. Definitely a show I’ll be looking forward to.
Otome Youkai Zakuro
Three flavors of cute girls and bishounen. Everybody wins!
Two sentence summary: Three soldiers led by Lt. Agemaki Kei are assigned to live and work together with a house of youkai as the government attempts to both live side by side with the youkai and introduce new, modern ideas. Despite his charm, Agemaki is also terribly frightened of youkai, and living with them is already causing some tension with Zakuro, who already mistrusts the humans and their modern ways.
Thoughts: A nice mix of comedy and some shoujo elements. Agemaki, complete with shoujo sparkles and rose petals when he laid on the charm, was great as someone trying to keep up his bishounen act while being deathly afraid of his new comrades. Zakuro played a surprisingly fun tsundere, falling for Agemaki’s charm at first and then returning to her dislike of humans when he proved to be afraid of even the most harmless youkai. It almost felt like if someone had made Faldio the main character in Valkyria Chronicles, with Zakuro having more than a little resemblance to Alicia. Through the whole episode I was entertained, and even though I was expecting it to be decent, I was surprised by how fun the characters were.
(highly probable) Iron Man
Cue ‘the song.’
Two sentence summary: Tony Stark heads to Japan to oversee the startup of an Arc Station, as well as the evaluation and testing of a prototype mass-production Iron Man suit. Being his playboy self he ends up immediately hitting on his lab director and a local reporter, but then is brought back out of ‘retirement’ by the hijacking of the prototype suit by a group calling themselves the ‘Zodiac.’
Thoughts: Having never read a single Iron Man comic book or seen either of the movies, I’m going into this as a blank slate. I’m not a comic book fan by any means, but even so the first episode of Iron Man looks like it’ll hold my interest. Tony Stark was fun to see laying on the charm in ways the terrorist scum Lyle Dyllandy could never hope to. The short fight wasn’t spectacular, but at least it looks like the show knows how to animate the fights well. Not enough to be a ‘definite’ for me, but I think it’s highly likely that I’ll watch the entire season of it.
Probationary Viewing – The ‘Maybes’
Shows that peaked my interest enough to keep watching, but which I haven’t decided on just yet.
Mecha, as interpreted by Lady Gaga.
Two sentence summary: Tsunashi Takuto washes up on the beach one night as he attempts to swim to his new school on South Island, a place his grandfather told him about. There he meets some of the locals, and finds a fabulously dressed cult attempting to use mecha to “break seals” when his powers and personal mecha activates.
Thoughts: Fabulous: the anime (as one person on Twitter put it.) Seriously, there’s more anatomically incorrect hand motions, sparkles, masquerade wear, rainbow, and suggestive designs going on here than Code Geass, a Prince of Tennis musical, Utena, and UraBoku combined. It’s ridiculous in a good way, and as long as it keeps bringing ‘teh lulz’ then I’ll keep watching it. Though I think it might get tiring after a while, so if it doesn’t either find new ways of amusing me or find a (non-cliche) story then I may end up dropping it at some point.
How life works.
Two sentence summary: Mashiro Moritaka has a crush on Azuki Miho, no direction in his life, and a skill for drawing coupled with emotional baggage from his uncle, a failed (and deceased) manga artist. But his classmate Takagi Akito notices his drawings, begs him to illustrate a manga he wants to write, and when it’s revealed that Azuki wants to be a voice actress, gets Mashiro to blurt out a marriage proposal to her if they succeed in their dream.
Thoughts: In the first half I could see the influence of Kasai Kenichi as director, since I got a very Honey and Clover feel to the flashbacks about Mashiro’s uncle. It was neat and lent some seriousness to the show, but its similarity to Takemoto’s narrations in H&C didn’t strike quite the chord in me I imagine it did in others. The comedy part of it later on was alright, though my overall impression of the show is only so-so thus far. Though I expect my opinion to be in the minority, as there seem to be legions of fans out there that have been following the manga. Will continue on to episode 03 before I decide.
Yosuga no Sora
More than I expected, in two ways.
Two sentence summary: Kazugano Haruka and his sickly twin sister Sora move out to their grandfather’s house in the countryside after their parents died in an accident, with Haruka meeting several of the local girls at his school. Sora is fairly cold, yet clingy towards her brother, and has developed a strange bro-con relationship with him, something that seemed tinged with something darker and perhaps supernatural going on in the larger story.
Thoughts: Despite that premise and those events (and the “they didn’t censor that?” maid sidestory) the show somehow managed not to get dropped by me. The way Sora and Haruka kissed when they were little kids, and her current complex with her brother, was presented in a disturbing light rather than a sexualized one. Her delusion about her brother kissing her was especially so, and the abrupt way it ended was a nice hint of what must be going on in her mind. It feels like it’s got an interesting mystery going on somewhere, but only time will tell if it’ll focus on that with the uncensored sexual moments as only a component of the mystery, a la Tsukihime, or if it will concentrate primarily on the sex (and thus be dropped by me.) Definitely better than I expected from it though.
Super Robot Wars OG: The Inspector
Something something (mecha pilot goes to the) Dark Side. Something something complete.
Two sentence summary: Starting off with a battle in what I’m assuming is the future between teammates that have become enemies, the show then jumps back to the main characters battling remnant DC forces. But then in the middle of the battle a new mecha appears from the sky, radiant light, feathers, and all, who has come in search of something.
Thoughts: Didn’t realize this was a sequel until I was already watching it, but it did a pretty good job of filling you in on what happened before. The mecha designs mostly aren’t to my tastes, but they’re not bad either. The world and the action seemed kind of contrived, but then again this is based off of a game whose sole premise is “big robots! fight! smash! victory!” The flash-forward scene at the beginning did grab my interest though, so I’ll watch up to episode 03 to see if it develops any substance.
Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai
One more sis-con/bro-con show and I’m declaring this the Season of Siscon.
Two sentence summary: Kousaka Kyousuke’s sister Kirino normally ignores him, but one day he finds a DVD case belonging to her, and instead of it being a magical girl anime it’s an eroge prominently featuring imouto (little sister) characters. She slaps him awake that night and after dancing around the issue, she admits to her love of eroge featuring imouto characters, swears Kyousuke to secrecy, makes him start playing the games, and vigorously denies that she has any ‘ulterior motives’ for enjoying games with so much sis-con/bro-con.
Thoughts: It…wasn’t terrible. Somehow. I hadn’t even planned on giving this a try, but I figured I’d do so for the hell of it. But it was actually funny, didn’t have an otaku self-insert male lead, or get creepy with actual sis/bro-con. Yet. I still remain wary of it. But surprisingly I’ll give it the three episode test and hope it stays decent. Not likely to be great or anything, but it could have potential as a decent comedy.
Dropped – Poor Bastards Never Stood a Chance
Shows I decided were terrible and not worth my time after the first episode (or maybe not even before the entire episode was done.)
I’d say more about how I hate your show, but you’d probably enjoy it.
Two sentence summary: Sado Taro is such a obsessive masochist that he has to seek the help of the “Second Volunteer Club” and Isurugi Mio to cure him of this so he can be confident enough to ask out the girl he likes. And Mio’s cure is, strangely, to beat the crap out of him until he (somehow) gets over his masochism.
Thoughts: Crap. Pointing out that the main character is an extreme masochist is barely funny the first time, but less for the entirety of the episode, and likely, the show. Lots of pointless comic violence, etc etc. Ugh, I swear, anime are on an “otaku (or Japanese men in general?) are masochists” kick over the last year or two, and this seems to be the inevitable outcome.
Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt
Ren and Stimpy + Powerpuff Girls + Gainax.
Two sentence summary: There’s a city between heaven and hell that relies on two angels, sex-obsessed Panty and her sister with a sweet tooth, Stocking, to protect them from demons. In high speed action scenes and plenty of toilet humor (entirely too much toilet humor) this show caused me to stop watching it about 7 minutes in.
Thoughts: Lots of people, and I mean the vast majority, seemed to react favorably to the first episode, but I could not stand it. The animation style, while done in a slick and visually impressive manner, was nothing new to me since I’ve seen a fair amount of American cartoons. And it didn’t help that it resembled a particular art style (influenced by anime, so the circle is now complete) that I dislike. But the animation is not really the problem for me, not by far. The literal toilet humor with the excrement monster reminded me too much of Ren and Stimpy, and I didn’t even like that sort of humor when back when that first came on when I was in elementary school. The other jokes felt similarly crude and juvenile. I rarely ever stop watching a first episode part way through, but this was just an absolute REJECTED for me.
Bonus: Preliminary Season Awards
DDDDAAAAAWWWW of the New Season
Otome Youkai Zakuro: Hotaru saying that she was afraid of Riken, unfortunately for her within earshot, might have soured things. But not for our man Riken, who later helped her reach a basket on top of a high dresser and then knelt down in front of her as in the above image. And there was much DDDDAAAAAAWWWWWing and kyyyaaaaaaaa.
Character I Want Dead of the New Season
Super Robot Wars OG: The Inspector: Excellen Browning. Annoying bimbo piloting a mecha too good for her. Ugh, I couldn’t stand even her for even a second. Though I probably won’t get my wish, she being a main character and all…