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[In which I review] New anime, Fall 2011

pwsnafu

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#31
It's karuta, more specifically the hyakunin isshu version. Hyakkunin is seen in Maria-sama, when the group go and stay over at Sachiko's place. The children's iroha version which uses pictures is very common in Japan, and you see it in Higurashi.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
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#32
Horizon on the Middle of Nowhere (Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon)
(13 episodes)

What's it about ?

Er... Let's be honest, the show itself relegates the exposition about the setting to a super-speed summary over the ending credits, so I feel confident in thinking it's a lot of clutter that doesn't matter too much. (Some stuff about god-kingdoms re-enacting history with terrible accuracy, with the current period being an techno-fantasy version of the Warring Kingdoms ? Whatever...)

What matters for the purposes of this first episode : this is a floating city (the surface isn't habitable anymore) with fantasy inhabitants (from normal humans to incubus & blobs). We're following a class of elite fighter and/or mage students, most of whom are heirs to bigwigs in their respective countries/ethnic groups.

Characters

The titular Horizon is a girl who died 10 years ago in an unfathomable pre-opening-credits sequence. The local ruler built her a tombstone in the middle of the floating city, so she must have been important.

Ms. Oriotorai, the class's teacher, decided that the best way to spice PE up was to have all 30-ish of her students try and tag her while they cross the city. (The inhabitants on the way wisely decide to barricade themselves to avoid most of the crossfire.) Oh, and she's also using it as a way to beat up some thugs that recently annoyed her. I like her style.

Tora, the student council president and son of the local bigwig, arrives fashionably late after the whole thing's over (he was standing in line to buy an ero-game). He's, of course, the only one who even manages to touch their teacher (groping her by surprise, sigh). It takes all of Jun Fukuyama's charisma not to make me want to throttle him (he has enough charm for a punch in the face to be sufficient).

Most of the other students don't get enough screentime to get more than one-note characterizations, although they do manage to pull some stunts that look impressive even with the teacher no-selling them. There's a wide range of talents in the class, from fighters to mages and including some outlandish fantasy races (there's a blob, an incubus, etc.). They also do show some team spirit, with effective combinations and several of them taking the time to collect the wounded and apologize to the neighbours.

There's a girl in a bakery who does nothing whatsoever, but is presumably some sort of reincarnation of Horizon to get this much screentime in so busy an episode.

Production Values

Impressive action sequences that flow quite well despite the general chaos. There's also a good sense of worldbuilding, with nice panoramas and a world that feels completely alien.

What did I think of it ?

This is another episode-long fight scene that leaves me clueless about the general direction the series is going to take, but unlike Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai! this feels way more coherent. It's a thoroughly dense setting, but the writers have the good sense of barely bothering to explain it and to focus on how fun it is to adventure there. It's an enthralling watch, with enough charm to get over the more cliché aspects or the overwhelming expospeak.

I could live without the more ecchi aspects of Tora's personality, but so far it works.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
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#33
Pure White Symphony ~ the color of lovers ~ (Mashiro-iro Symphony)
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

Yet another date-sim adaptation. The hook here, if you can call it that, is that a previously all-girls high school is starting to let boys enroll.

Characters

Shingo, our generic male lead. As blandly nice as you'd expect.

Sakuno, his sister. She's more than a bit mentally-challenged, and easily gets lost. Or distracted. I hope she doesn't have a route, but considering how she's unaware that they may be a bit too old to bathe together...

Airi, daughter of the principal, and vehemently against boys enrolling. We also get to see her nice side when she helps Sakuno get unlost.

We don't get to see much of the rest of the cast. The obligatory pervert best friend isn't actually that perverted, there's a girl that spends her whole screentime sitting in the grass cuddling a bizarre cat-thing, and somehow the high-school's got a maid.

Production Values

Perfectly okay, but the character designs are typical date-sim fare : colorful and immediately forgettable.

What did I think of it ?

A pretentious opening prologue about the color of love. Half the episode spent on Sakuno being lost. A dramatic cliffhanger where Airi announces she's against dudes in the school. This is a joke, right ? A parody of how bland and devoid of stakes the genre has become ? But alas, no, this is played entirely straight throughout, and the show really expects us to care about its hackneyed premise.

I don't care, and neither should you.
 

Wolfwood2

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#34
Damn, a lot of strike-outs this season. The only thing I've really loved so far was Squid Girl 2, episode 2. (Episode 1 led off with an anime-original reintroduction to the character that was pretty bad, but episode 2 was back to comedic form.)

C3 is starting to look better on the basis of, at least it didn't put me to sleep. (I couldn't even get through the opening credits of Hunter x Hunter.)
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
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Validated User
#35
Persona 4 - The Animation
(25 episodes)

What's it about ?

The anime adaptation of a cult videogame... which I've never played (I don't own a PS2).

The plot, as much as I can discern so far : a few high-schoolers living in a little town in the middle of nowhere discover they can enter TVs into a parallel world where they fight monsters (the game's a RPG with heavy visual-novel/dating-sim overtones, from what I've understood).

Characters

Narukami, the player character. As such, he has no personality whatsoever and speaks as little as possible. He's going to live in Littletown for a year with his uncle (conveniently a senior detective, thank you conservation of cast !) because his parents are busy abroad. He gets weird dreams and voices talking to him, eventually leading him to walk into a giant-screen TV in the local mall. There, a passing friendly monster helpfully gives him glasses that allow him to summon a giant avatar to fight nasty beasties. It has to be said that the glasses make him look 200% more badass.

Hanamura, the token perverted best friend. Son of the mall's owner, and only here for six months. Part of the initial party, although all he's done so far is freak out and piss himself.

Chie, the tomboy. You can tell she's important because she wears a bright green sweater instead of the dull grey school uniforms of nearly everyone else in the class. Also part of the initial party.

Konishi, a quiet girl who seems as the center of things : she discovered the corpse of a gory murder, and the "girl in the haunted TV channel" urban legend looks a lot like her.

Production Values

This series has one of the best opening sequences of the year... despite having spent no budget on it whatsoever (it's just geometrical shapes intercut with snippets of the prologue -our protagonist coming to Littletown in train). But the tune is very catchy indeed. (Same deal with the ED.)

I'd love to say that the same sense of style permeates the episode... but alas, no. The soundtrack alternates between the quite good and the ill-timed ; and there's something slightly off with the rhythm of most scenes. It feels... very visual-novelly, for lack of better term ; characters exchange dialogue in a slightly disjointed fashion that makes it look like a direct adaptation of the original game's VN scenes (although I have no clue whether the game was actually like that).

I love a lot of the stylistic quirks here (such as the calendar shots to mark the passage of time), but it doesn't quite click.

What did I think of it ?

Well, it's more than a bit rough, but I can't quite fault a show for trying to be a bit stylish and falling slightly short of the mark. It's certainly got atmosphere, and I'm interested in where the dating-sim-meets-dungeon-crawl story is going.

We'll see how it goes from here.
 

pwsnafu

Registered User
Validated User
#36
Sakuno, his sister. She's more than a bit mentally-challenged, and easily gets lost. Or distracted. I hope she doesn't have a route, but considering how she's unaware that they may be a bit too old to bathe together...
Step-sister actually. Convenient no?

but the character designs are typical date-sim fare : colorful and immediately forgettable.
Cute, but boring.
 

JELEINEN

Sizzler Black Squadron
Validated User
#37
Pure White Symphony ~ the color of lovers ~ (Mashiro-iro Symphony)
A pretentious opening prologue about the color of love. Half the episode spent on Sakuno being lost. A dramatic cliffhanger where Airi announces she's against dudes in the school. This is a joke, right ? A parody of how bland and devoid of stakes the genre has become ? But alas, no, this is played entirely straight throughout, and the show really expects us to care about its hackneyed premise.

I don't care, and neither should you.
Oh come on, didn't you see what they did? Airi started out dere dere then turned tsun tsun. It's sheer genius. I mean, sure, years from now deretsun characters will be everywhere, but this show was the first!
 

TechnocratJT

Want be in Avengers 5
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#38
The calendar is a direct lift from the game; remember it's a cult hit in the US but just a massive hit in Japan; and trinity soul was...not well loved. The result is P4 the anime is a Higurashi level ( and maybe even sin city level) slavish adaptation.
 

Dawgstar

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#39
The calendar is a direct lift from the game; remember it's a cult hit in the US but just a massive hit in Japan; and trinity soul was...not well loved. The result is P4 the anime is a Higurashi level ( and maybe even sin city level) slavish adaptation.
I quite liked it, but it's almost redundant to watch if you've played the game. Still, I'll confess, I marked out when Reach Out to the Truth started playing during the first fight.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
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#40
I Don't Have Many Friends (Boku ha Tomodachi ga Sukunai)
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

Harem comedy, although the accent's clearly more on the "comedy" side of the scale. Adaptation of a series of light novels (which are also known under the bizarre acronym of "Haganai").

The premise : a group of loners decide to form a high school club together, because it's the only way for them to get friends. Basically, think Haruhi Suzumiya without the paranormal aspect.

Characters

Kodaka, our male lead, and a transfer student since one month. Made the worst first impression EVER by arriving so late on his first day that it looked liked he was assaulting the teacher when he rushed into the classroom. It doesn't help that he has natural halfbreed blonde hair ; everyone thinks he's a delinquent. As a consequence, he has no friends.

Yozora, a taciturn girl with no friends. Kodaka surprises her alone in a classroom talking with her "air friend", which is works about the same way as an air guitar (yes, it's as pathetic as it sounds, although Kodaka doesn't have much ground for criticism given that I'm pretty sure he did the same thing in one of his flashbacks). When she and Kodaka discuss their situation, and note that joining a club this late in the schoolyear won't work to make friends. So she decides to create her own (with a coded message in the poster that explains exactly what the club is about), and forcefully enrolls Kodaka in it.

Sena, the first applicant, who also has no friends. This might seem surprising, considering she's beautiful, has great grades, is super-awesomely athletic, and the daughter of the school's owner ; the problem is that all the boys become complete sycophants around her, and all the girls hate her for exactly the reasons stated above. This includes Yozora, who does her best to try and deny her entrance into the clubroom.

Presumably, more characters are going to join shortly, if the credits sequences and the OVA are any indication.

Production Values

Wait, does this share a character designer with Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko ? *Checks* Indeed it does ; I knew I'd recognized this way of depicting girls' arousal/sexyness/blushing/whatever-it-is. Anyway, this looks perfectly okay, but visuals aren't really the point.

What did I think of it ?

I didn't came into this expecting much (especially after the ultra-confusing, in-media-res OVA with inexplicable Index cameo), but this surprised me by how genuinely funny it was. The characters display actual wit, and have great chemistry together. The comedic timing is impeccable. It's also surprisingly light on romance so far ; the focus is clearly on the characters' psychology and their interplay. This pleases me.

A very pleasant surprise.
 
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