Nourin: A Quick Review

Ouch! Right in the testicles.

Ouch! Right in the testicles.

Life in the countryside is full of compromise to everyone except for one naive young man and his love for a certain idol. This is another one of these life of farmers idealized shows though I think it will be much more relationship focused than the others. Also, it’s a lot more silly than that other show with a similar setting airing this season.

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Wake Up, Girls!: A Quick Review

One has to commend the accurately labeled shirts in this show.

One has to commend the accurately labeled shirts in this show.

Yamakan’s latest effort at directing TV anime is very much not the comedy vehicles he tends to have the most success with. In fact, this seems to be a much more personal vehicle for him. After watching the first episode, I can’t tell if Wake Up, Girls! is some sort of encouragement for himself or if it is actually a defiant piece aimed at those who have criticized him. I do have to say it did seem like he was rather pissed off.

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Pupa: A Quick Review

Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.

Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.

Pupa in its first episode really showed why censorship can be a bad thing if used selectively. We have an older brother witnessing his sister turning into a man-eating monster where we can’t see that transformation happening. Then, we get to see her in her new form, which isn’t as terrible as I expected.

The only other thing I thought was worth noting in this 4 minute short was the fact that everyone except for Yume had were bodies covered in wounds. What that leads me into is asking a question of whether this show can actually work in short episodes as a psychological horror series. I’m inclined to say that the short format makes it more disposable and less likely to be remembered. Putting it together in a single hour-long feature format would make more sense in my opinion.

Magical Warfare: A Quick Review

I present to you the pair of objects that got the most attention in this episode.

I present to you the pair of objects that got the most attention in this episode.

Suspension of disbelief is important for action shows like this. Few things are capable of destroying this than running out of budget partially through the episode and inexplicable mid-combat exposition scenes. My goodness is there a lot of the latter as everything turned silly.

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Hozuki no Reitetsu: A Quick Review

This is how you negotiate your vacation time in Hell.

This is how you negotiate your vacation time in Hell.

As absurd as a setting of hell can be, Hozuki no Reitetsu is essentially a workplace comedy with a dark edge. The first part features the title character having to deal with the incompetencies of his boss and having to solve problems all on his own. The second half is world building through pets. It’s a little bit of a mixed bag overall.

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Z/X Ignition: A Quick Review

The 2 assholes taking pictures with their tablets deserve exactly the death that is coming to them.

The 2 assholes taking pictures with their tablets deserve exactly the death that is coming to them.

When 6 minutes into an episode you are questioning the logic of the universe of an action show, it generally means one thing. Yes, a children’s card game adaptation. As always with these things, I’m left with more questions than answers. These aren’t the nice questions about what to expect from the show, but the most cynical questions one can come up with.

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Engaged to the Unidentified: A Quick Review

It doesn't look good for Mashiro here.

It doesn’t look good for Mashiro here.

This is really the story of a group of kids putting on facades and a way of once again making jokes about the differences between country and city folk for not much of a reason. This is the story of a young girl engaged to be married and only finding out about it on her 16th birthday. That means this is clearly going to end with her slowly falling for the guy who has no presence.

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Hamatora: A Quick Review

This rivalry is on now.

This rivalry is on now.

There was a point in the first episode of Hamatora where I knew exactly what would be in the safe that was at the center of the plot of the first episode. How often do you have an old maid offering to dress up in a high school uniform to satisfy the sexual needs of the young master of a rich household? Everything about that just screams hidden stash of porn, and that’s exactly what it turned out to be.

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Robot Girls Z: A Quick Review

Who is the evil one here?

Who is the evil one here?

Having endured a much similar concept in 2005’s Ultimate Girls, I wasn’t expecting Robot Girls Z to be anything other than a train wreck. There’s just something about how trying to change classic shows into classic shows with moe girls that makes everything else unimportant. Would this 70s mecha as girls work as badly as I thought?

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Soni-Ani: Super Sonico the Animation: A Quick Review

The cameraman knows what is up.

The cameraman knows what is up.

Series featuring mascot characters in modern times have rarely been interesting. There is just so much that can go wrong with a character that represents a larger entity if used incorrectly that fear generally rules the day in making something interesting. With that in mind, it’s no surprise to see Nitroplus’s mascot character Super Sonico doing nothing outlandish that hasn’t been seen before in their promotional materials. Even if the company makes its money off visual novels.

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Buddy Complex: A Quick Review

Shipping doesn't work if that is what the show knows it's all it has.

Shipping doesn’t work if that is what the show knows it’s all it has.

In the annals of generic mecha series, there will be few that will remember Buddy Complex. It seems to fit the bill of being the most generic of the generic of series. It’s almost as if there’s no point in hiding what this show is really meant to be; blatant cross-promotion.

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The Pilot’s Love Song: A Quick Review

Superman, this guy is not.

Superman, this guy is not.

Initially I was sort of dreading the fact that this series started with the dreaded To Aru because it meant only a 50% of it being ironically entertaining. I didn’t really have much to worry about with this story set on a floating island because there was little of anything to actually care about.

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Witch Craft Works: A Quick Review

The height difference just adds to how powerless Takamiya is in the beginning.

The height difference just adds to how powerless Takamiya is in the beginning.

Very rarely do you come across a show that actually makes you think about gender differences by merely swapping the traditional roles. Witch Craft Works attempts to do such a thing with the male lead Takamiya depicted as weak and helpless compared to Kagari the fire witch who protects him. The success of this series will depend on how the latter is developed as a character, but this was definitely a good start. Continue reading

Nobunagun: A Quick Review

They even take selfies in anime. They are only 2 years behind popular culture now.

They even take selfies in anime. They are only 2 years behind popular culture now.

From the very start, Nobunagun is pretty much obsessed with one thing. Inflicting as much violence on the screen as possible. It doesn’t matter if it is mental violence, violence against the color palette, actual grim deaths on screen; there’s no holding back here. But is it actually any good at it?

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Nobunaga the Fool: A Quick Review

Oda Nobunaga piloting a mecha while holding Jeanne d'Arc in his arms? Oda Nobunaga piloting a mecha while holding Jeanne d'Arc in his arms.

Oda Nobunaga piloting a mecha while holding Jeanne d’Arc in his arms? Oda Nobunaga piloting a mecha while holding Jeanne d’Arc in his arms.

I think the only shows I’ve finished that have had characters named Oda Nobunaga have all been female versions of that character. I mean, all you really have to do these days to get that character down is to have a character that acts tough but is hopelessly naive about the amount of power they have and is completely reckless. This one checks all the boxes, but about this world they’ve put Oda Nobunaga in?

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Tonari no Seki-kun: A Quick Review

tns01aThe first episode of this series of shorts features Yokoi (voiced by Kanazawa Hana) watching in despair as Seki plays dominoes with loads of his erasers in the middle of class.

There’s not really much to say about this series since it is incredibly high concept. The fact that Hanakana was cast as the main character here says that it was mainly about getting someone who sounds excited easily. Basically, all it comes down to is a series of segments of Hanakana playing William Shatner in that famous Twilight Zone episode where there was a monster on the wing of the plane. Except that it is a boy with a little too much time on his hands in class and an endless supply of equipment.

On the plus side, I did like the ending theme. It’s the 2nd best one I’ve seen so far (first being a show that hasn’t officially aired yet.)

Ranking 10 Shows from 2013

So hyped for Season 5…oh this is about anime isn’t it?

2013 was definitely a show filled with many shows of assorted variety. It probably says a lot that I can think of tons of shows of appalling quality yet struggle to come up with more than one show that I genuinely loved. Anyway, let’s rank these things and move on with out lives in 2014 because that’s truly for the better.

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12 Days of Something III: Moments of Anime

spacebros42a1. Space Brothers moon accident (Episodes 40-43)

In January when I was still watching Space Brothers, there was an event I knew was going to happen from watching the live action movie last year. Hibito did end up crashing the lunar rover into a massive crevasse. What happened with the next few episodes was the series at its very best. The dumb light moments were gone for that span and it was replaced with a drama where the threat felt real. Hibito did get out of that situation, barely, but the scars would last. The conclusion of that arc later took a hit in my mind when I found out the inspiration for the astronaut figure left on the moon. After that, the old Space Brothers returned and I could no longer enjoy it in the same way.

haganai20h2. Sena and Kodaka talk over coffee (Episode 7 – Haganai Next)

Sometimes the best insight into characters can come at the most surprising times. When the Neighbors Club took a shopping trip there were the usual antics that come with a harem comedy. In the middle of this was a conversation at a coffee shop between Sena and Kodaka where we learn more about the latter than all previous episodes prior. It’s brief, but we learn that he has a massive inferiority complex. He doesn’t feel that he deserves to be loved by anyone and at that point it’s obvious that he is willfully ignoring the feelings of the girls around him. This conversation really marked the transition of the series from one about girls falling in love with Kodaka to a show about helping him find his confidence.

Older Maid Sister is in fine form3. Older Maid Sister’s Speech (Episode 9 Maoyuu Maou Yuusha)

While this show disappointingly ended with Hero subjected to Female Knight and Demon King shoving their chests into his face, there were moments of genuine quality in Maoyuu. Having taken Crimson Scholar’s place in being subjected to public execution, Older Maid Sister gave a speech that wasn’t so much a call for her own safety as much as a call to destroy the existing order that was drawn from her own experience of being taken in by Demon King. Even as she is being beaten her will shines through and she will not have her spirit crushed.

htms01b4. A Demon Lord and His Minion Land in a Rough New World (Episode 1 – Hataraku Maou-sama!)

The spring season opened with a 2nd show involving a demon king only this time they ended up in modern Japan. There wasn’t much glossing over what happened on Maou and Ashiya’s arrival though. Here were two foreigners who did not speak the language trying to figure out a way to make some money and find a place to live. Their social support network consists of just the two of them and their mysterious landlord Miki. A long struggle to survive in low-wage hell looked set to begin.

yuyu07a5. Pikachurin (Yuyushiki Episode 7)

Yuyushiki is at it’s heart a show about 3 cute girls doing cute things as friends. Their club activities fittingly involve looking things up on the internet revolving around a theme of the day they come up with on their own. The moment I think that best summed this up took place in the 7th episode. When talking about Yuzuko’s unusual eye color she ended up coming across a Wikipedia article for the protein that sends information from the eyes to the brain. Yes, Pikachurin. In this show of many tangents, a discussion that begins with cat’s eyes concludes with speculation on the gender of the children a scientist has. That’s Yuyushiki research in a nutshell right there.

muromi11b6. The Quest for Happiness in the New Economy (Namiuchigiwa Muromi-san Episode 11)

It’s not much of a stretch to say that Muromi-san isn’t exactly heavy in social commentary. What little there is is run through the character of Otohime the former business owner under the sea who has to work in a fishing shop. The episode is about much more than that though. There’s the convenience store worker who had dreams of his own, but with his girlfriend now pregnant those dreams may be permanently on hold. Otohime herself is looking to stand on her own terms after she lost her business, but it doesn’t look like that is happening. Her frequent fights with Muromi always seemed to be about how Otohime had fallen, but this episode revealed that they were really a frustration with how things change. Life can’t simply go back to how it was before the economy tanked. The episode ends fittingly with an all-night drinking session outside of the convenience store talking about business in an unstable economy.

c3bu04b7. Yura’s Imagination Comes to Life (Stella Jogakuin Koutou-ka C3-bu Episode 4)

C3-bu ended up turning into a sort of gunsoft version of Rambo when the protagonist Yura was questioning why gunsoft didn’t love her as much as she loved it. Early on in a quest to improve her skills the club goes to a temple and sets Yura a goal of being able to shoot a single 5-yen coin from across an archery range. After failing for the day and having left her gun at the temple, Yura returns and enters one of her vivid delusions. The next day she returns and imagines herself in the middle of an ancient battle and fires a shot through an incoming arrow. Did it really happen? Was Rento also sucked into Yura’s imagination? Or did she simply shoot into the hole of the 5-yen coin?

hsdxds207b8. Akeno Makes Her Move (High School DxD New Episode 7)

Having saved his friends from Kokabiel in the last episode through force of will, Issei and the rest of the Occult Research Club embarked on a more pedestrian mission; cleaning the school’s pool. The feelings of those around him had swung fully in his direction. When even Yuuto is confessing his feelings for him, you knew Issei was in the form of his life. So when he had to have more of his dragon energy sucked out of him by Akeno, the audience was in for a show.

kinmosa12f9. The Kinmoza Musical (Episode 12)

Having wrapped up the series proper, Kiniro Mosaic started a take on chuunibyou and ended up turning it into a short musical number. Going completely off-script in the adaptation happened to yield the best of this series. The musical number relied on being interested in these characters and their idiosyncrasies, but the case could be made that the musical number could stand on its own. I’d be interested to see if anyone who did not watch any of Kinmoza would understand the musical bit.

noukome01b10. Noucome‘s History of the World Through Choices (Episode 1)

For a high-concept harem comedy about a character who is forced into making ridiculous choices, the opening scene is one of the most ambitious narratives of the year. They try to tell history as a series of choices made by people who would go on to be famous for those decisions. Unfortunately, it’s hardly a successful story as it drags on for far too long and it is followed up by Furano, Ouka and Kanade being involved in dirty jokes. Failed ambition is better than not even trying.

wa207a11. A School Festival Concert (White Album 2 Episode 7)

There were hints of this in the opening episode that the relationship between Setsuna, Kazusa and Haruki would hit its peak. The concert’s three songs sum up the series perfectly. The first was the song that brought them together, the second was a dialogue between Kazusa and Setsuna about romantic conflict and the third was about love lost. The performance captures everything that made this series the surprise of 2013.

oc12a12. Outbreak Company takes on ‘Cool Japan’ (Episodes 11 and 12)

Outbreak Company was one of the better shows this year with its attempts to portray a divided society and in the final episodes the attention turned to the Japanese government and the place of otaku in society. Imports of anime and manga were restricted early on in the 11th episode. It became clear that this was the dark side of trying to spread culture. Matoba revealed that it was all a plot to have the people learn Japanese and to become more interested in anime and manga than developing their own culture. When Shinichi learns of this he and Minori become expendable because they do live on their own. Ultimately, he uses the ties that he has forged in his new land to get protection after he tells Petrarca they should make their own anime, manga and light novels. That was a potentially dangerous thing to do.