40 Seasons in 40 Days: Summer 2004

Yes, that is indeed cheating.

The 13th post in this series goes forward just one more season. This season was a good mix of cult shows and some that well, aren’t so cult.

I’ll start this recap off with the very early starter in Samurai Champloo. This series will always be compared to Cowboy Bebop because of the common director. The similarities are numerous; the episodic flow, the impact the music has on the feel of the series, similar characters; but there is a much more adventurous feel to some of the allegories used here. From a basic level, some of the episodes can look like average comedy, but behind it are some themes that force the viewer to think about what it really means. Challenging the viewer can only be a good thing.

Which is exactly what Natsuiro no Sunadokei doesn’t do. While I’ve read various opinions saying that the visual novel was actually pretty good, this just didn’t work for me. In the space of two episodes, this OVA tries to build a plot around the male lead, Koutarou, traveling through time to save the girl he wants to go out with. Since in the future she did accept, that plot point is out of the way quickly. The rest seems to fall into typical visual novel adaptation cliche.

In much the same tone is (takes a deep breath) Tsuki wa Higashi ni Hi wa Nishi ni -Operation Sanctuary. With a title that long your thinking there is no way this can be any good, and you would be right. The combination of awful character designs, plot progression that only decides to start in the last 2 episodes only to be sub-par and characters who made me want to cut myself to end my experience watching this. I should add at this point the episodes are just 12 minutes in length.

Continuing the inexplicable harem theme of this post is the first season of Girls Bravo. When this first aired, it represented my first experience with steam effects designed to boost DVD sales, which perhaps makes a decent point here. Yukinari, the protagonist, is pretty much the typical harem lead who is incapable of doing anything on his own. The twist is he breaks out in hives whenever he has contact with a woman, except for Miharu the main girl here. There’s also that great misogynistic plot device of a place where there are no men. Oh who am I kidding? There’s pretty much no depth here, nor is there substance. The high-concept of a harem lead who can’t be around women wears pretty fast, and it’s appalling that this got a second season.

Then there’s the fourth season of Galaxy Angel, which introduces a new character in Karasuma Chitose. While this season is marginally better than the third, the unrequited hatred between Chitose and the Angel troupe can only be maintained for so long. So in the end, it’s probably for the best that it bowed out 2 seasons too late.

For something completely different there’s yet another version of Cutey Honey though this time it’s Re: Cutie Honey. While the 3 episodes try to maintain the camp-ness of the original series with the same one-dimensional characters with a female detective thrown in, it never takes itself too seriously. Sure Honey is just a cyborg fighting in a minimal amount of clothing, but it wouldn’t look right in any other way.

More controversially there’s Elfen Lied, which a lot of people like, and a slightly smaller number of people hate. I had enough time to go through this series to try to get a body count (Exactly 100 by my count), but the violence plays just a semi-important part. The series excelled when it stuck to its hard psychological edge. The lighter aspects when there’s character development are probably the weakest parts. There’s also arguments over whether the levels of nudity constitute fan-service or not, I’d probably lean toward the latter though I can see why from the other side.

Finally, there was a one-shot OVA titled Azusa, Otetsudai Shimasu! The original concept came from a script writing contest, and this was the result. It’s a strange combination of maids, robots and baseball which I thought worked out to be acceptable in quality. It does a nice job in creating back story as well as creating a world where the use of robots seems perfectly normal to everyone. Sure, the ending is a little sappy, but it’s a sports anime, what other kind of ending would there be?

Highlights from Unseen or Unfinished Items

Mind Game seems like a film directed and produced by people who have ingested a significant amount of mind-altering chemicals. Samurai 7 is a remake of The Seven Samurai set in a fantasy world, which I inexplicably haven’t gotten around to seeing