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[In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2013

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#51
Nagi no Asukara
(26 episodes)

What's it about ?

Fantastic slice-of-life show (or maybe romantic comedy) where most of the cast happens to be living at the bottom of the sea.

Characters

Hikari, one of the sea-dwellers. Very proud of his culture, to the point of enjoining his mates to keep their old uniforms when they transfer from their now closed-down undersea high school to the closest one near the shore. It's obvious he cares a lot about...

Manaka, his childhood friend, clumsy and quite shy. It doesn't help that the shaman has just stricken her with a very embarrassing curse : a fish-head coming out of her knee. Easily flustered, she runs aways and gets lost in the forest ; this is problematic, as her kind can only stay out of seawater for so long. She's rescued by...

Tsumugu, a normal, land-born boy in their class. Son of fishermen, which is bound to lead to conflict later on, as the landpeople and the seapeople are feuding about fishing zones and the like. Unlike most of his classmates, he's fascinated by the seapeople, and especially finds Manaka beautiful. Embarrassing fish-knee and all.

Chisaki, the other girl in the seakids' group, obviously has a thing for Hikari, but certainly wouldn't wish anything bad to happen to Manaka. She's her friend, after all. She's clearly putting up a brave face.

There's a fourth member in their group, but he doesn't leave me much of an impression yet.

Production Values

It's from PA Works, so of course it's beautifully-rendered scenery porn, and fluid animation.

The big struggle here is to make the undersea environment work. It looks a bit too normal to be entirely believable (clothes don't work that way underwater !), but that's part of the point.

Overall Impression

Oh, look, a fable about how ridiculous racism is ! How novel !

Well, at least it's not too heavy-handed. This is perfectly pleasant to watch, and some care has been applied to figuring out the details of how exactly the undersea culture is supposed to work. It's not realistic at all, but the idea is that both groups are very similar beyond the land/sea differences.

I'm not sure there's really 26 episodes of story in this, but I'm intrigued.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#52
I couldn't become a hero, so I reluctantly decided to get a job (Yuusha ni Narenakatta Ore wa Shibushibu Shuushoku wo Ketsui Shimashita)
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

Oh, a Devil is a Part-Timer clone !

Characters

Raul, our protagonist. He used to be the swordsman leader of a team of wannabe heroes on their way to defeat the forces of evil... but then the Demon Lord got beaten by someone else, the country cancelled their whole hero project because of budget cuts (it's not like they needed it anymore), and thus he had to find a new career in retail. It's not quite working out, despite his best efforts.

Nova's boobs and crotch assist him (clumsily) in his job. I'm not quite sure whether they're the same characters as the boobs and crotch of the other fighter on his team in the prologue, but the camera spends as much attention on them.

Firo is an antagonistic kid who shows up one day and demands to be hired (and, being homeless, a place to stay). Despite being the heir of the Demon Lord. Incredibly, the manager accepts, to Raul's bemusement. Cue the usual "fish out of water" jokes. Eventually Raul and Firo find some common ground, what with being relics of a war nobody cares for anymore ; by the episode's end, they're more or less friends. (Also, you can see the "twist" coming from a mile away.)

Production Values

It's almost rythmical : Boobs, crotch, ass. Boobs, crotch, ass. Repeat ad nauseum. Otherwise, it's just about average-looking.

Overall Impression

There are glimmers of an interesting premise here ; unfortunately, I've already seen much of these ideas explored much better in The Devil is a Part-timer. So what we're left with is a cut-price version of that show, with much more fanservice, less interesting characters, and less clever writing.

I won't bother with this one.

-----------------------

Strike the Blood
(24 episodes)

What's it about ?

Urban fantasy, set in a man-made island city in the middle of the Pacific, built as a refuge for vampires, half-demons and various other nearly extinct supernatural species.

Characters

Kojou, our protagonist. Up until three months ago, he was just a normal high-schooler ; now he's "The Fourth Progenitor", a super-powerful vampire. He'd rather do without that, mind you ; the random brutal cravings for blood are quite annoying, and he'd rather live just a normal life.

The previous Fourth Progenitor only appears in thoroughly unclear flashbacks ; the only thing he can clearly remember is that she gave her powers (and then faded away) without him providing much consent.

Yukina, a middle-schooler in the same school complex who just transferred in ; she's very obviously stalking him. After the token confrontation, we learn that she's a reasonably powerful mage from some governmental agency, who consider Kojou as about equal to a nuke and sent her to investigate him. She does eventually agree he's a decent guy ; she's still going to keep close to him forever, just in case.

There's a couple of asshole thugs (whose predator behaviour border on paedophilia) who serve as our cannon fodder of the week. Presumably they get taken out in the stinger by the small kid and her bodyguard who look like serious business.

(Kojou has a couple of "normal" friends, but I have doubts we're going to see much of them from now on. Instead, the OP sequence playing at the end shows off many other girls.)

Production Values

There's some good directing at work here, especially with the creative use of colour and degenerative artefacts to provide atmosphere (as you'd expect from a Silver Link co-production). Nice score, too.

It's a shame it has to be applied to a script that requires Yukina's panties to be showed off repeatedly over the course of the episode.

Overall Impression

Oh, dear. There are some semi-interesting ideas here, as well as a protagonist with more personality than the usual bland everyman, and a strong build up to the atmosphere. But it's wasted on a script that constantly undercuts itself with very annoying "fanservice" events and generic romantic comedy hijinks. I really get the impression that even the director doesn't have much interest in those elements, and only includes them as some obligation to the producers and the source material (a series of light novels, of course). It's all very perfunctory, and would be a much stronger show if omitted.

I fear another Index : some decent worldbuilding and characters ruined by contrived and joyless irritants. I'm giving it at least another episode to see whether it cuts down on the crap, but I'm not too hopeful.
 

Korror

Storyteller
Validated User
#54
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Oh, dear. There are some semi-interesting ideas here, as well as a protagonist with more personality than the usual bland everyman, and a strong build up to the atmosphere. But it's wasted on a script that constantly undercuts itself with very annoying "fanservice" events and generic romantic comedy hijinks. I really get the impression that even the director doesn't have much interest in those elements, and only includes them as some obligation to the producers and the source material (a series of light novels, of course). It's all very perfunctory, and would be a much stronger show if omitted.

I fear another Index : some decent worldbuilding and characters ruined by contrived and joyless irritants. I'm giving it at least another episode to see whether it cuts down on the crap, but I'm not too hopeful.
Pity. I had some mild hopes for this one. I'll still give it a try and see how I find it.
 

Quasar

Feeling kinda smurfy
Validated User
#55
Nagi no Asukara
(26 episodes)

The big struggle here is to make the undersea environment work. It looks a bit too normal to be entirely believable (clothes don't work that way underwater !), but that's part of the point.
That I found jarring. For a bit I actually thought it wasn't undersea but just a world with fish that live in the air and not the water. I wonder why they did that. I liked it overall though. For some reason I was reminded of Anohana.
 
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Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#56
Outbreak Company
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

The ultimate otaku-pandering fantasy.

Characters

Shinichi, our protagonist, is your stereotypical otaku, including all the nastier aspects (the lewd proclivities lurking behind the Nice Guy façade, the lolicon tastes, the tendacy to spout cliché quotes, the inability to have normal social interactions for more than a token amount of time...). One day, he finds an ad for an otaku-targeted job, including a 200-step otaku-culture quizz, and can't believe his luck.

Mr Matoba, the interviewer, is all sugar but quite evasive about what the job actually is about. Well, at least until he drugs Shinichi's coffee and has him transported to a high-fantasy world. Which the JSDF has found recently and is trying to establish good relations with. This includes setting up an otaku-culture export company, as apparently that's what the locals are most interested in. Unfortunately, somehow previous attempts by government representatives have failed, which is where Shinichi comes in : he's to be the new manager of this company.

Myusel, the half-elf maid, is one of the perks of the job. She fits just about every stereotype you'd expect : submissive, shy, a bit clumsy... Frankly, it's all a bit awkward.

Koganuma is a deadpan JSDF soldier who's there to make sure he doesn't get into too much trouble, and provide some more exposition. (Include the fact she's a F-cup.)

Eldant III, ruler of the kingdom, summons our protagonist the very next day, which is frankly a bit too early in his acclimatisation process. So of course he immediately perpetrates the blunder of calling her a "little girl" to her face. She'll have you know she's 16, for starters. (Also, there are hundreds of her knights in the room. Oops.)

Production Values

Perfectly okay. The character designs (as well as the setting as a whole) is more than a bit on the generic side, but then that's the point.

Overall Impression

I'm conflicted about this one. On the one hand, it does have a good central joke at its center, and makes a good job of following through on it. It's a very silly premise, but there's certainly been some thought applied to make it work ; Matoba & Koganuma make it clear that this is a dangerous situation that could go wrong horribly quickly. They're taking it very seriously, and humouring Shinichi's quirks when they're inoffensive enough. It's relatively well-paced, and it's got some good jokes.

On the other hand, this is still a massive bit of otaku-pandering, with a very annoying main character. (It could do without Myusel, too.) It kinda rubs me the wrong way, to be honest.

There's a good chance I'll give up on this very quickly.
 

Quasar

Feeling kinda smurfy
Validated User
#58
Man, I gave up on this and haven't watched a single episode. :eek:

Yes, this is from the guy who gave Diabolik Lovers three episodes.
I watched it and didn't hate it. Admittedly the only real interesting thing was the setup, the whole setting up of the company in a fantasy kingdom and exporting Japanese pop culture as a way to bring the two peoples together. I was reminded of the whole deal with Nyaruko-chan and the Japanese pop culture trade there.

Of course I'm guessing that bit won't be touched on much, and instead we'll just get lots of hijinx. Which means I'll probably watch one more episode at best.
 
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Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#59
Log Horizon
(25 episodes)

What's it about ?

Players trapped in a MMORPG world. Which is on the verge of becoming its own subgenre.

Characters

Shiroe, our protagonist. Technically a mage, although his core role in the party is the strategist : the guy who keeps his cool, stays at the top fo things, and finds the best tactics for everyone. Which is a lot harder when you're busy fighting monsters in the flesh and have trouble focusing on the menus.

Naotsugu, his mandatory perverted best friend. A fighter. Not too bright. The comic relief of the group. He's damn happy to find his old pal : he hadn't played the game for two years, and certainly wasn't expecting this. (Not that anyone was expecting this, instead of the announced "update".)

Akatsuki, the assassin. Unfortunately, while Shiroe just about gets by now having the body of a character a foot taller than he used to be, she just can't deal now having a male body twice her former size. (Hey, it's a fantasy game. You don't have to play what you are.) The good news is that she remembered Shiroe had a (very rare) shape-changing potion that solves the problem. Since she insists on repaying him, they have her join their party. (She seems to be a hardcore roleplayer who takes the "lone ninja" thing seriously, however impractical that may be in these circumstances.)

Marielle, leader of the Crescent Moon Alliance. Cutesy and teasing... but clearly an old friend of Shiroe's. They go and see her because of course networking for information is the thing to do at this point, but our heroes aren't joining ; they don't do guilds. (Cue talk of Shiroe leading the most badass non-guild group some time back, before they disbanded.)

They're some dude with the head of a cat lurking in the shadows. Presumably he's important.

Production Values

Not bad, although we're far from the highest budget in the season.

The OP features some mightily old-school rapping. You've been warned.

Overall Impression

Let's start with the elephant in the room : how does this compare to Sword Art Online ? Well, of course it looks nowhere as good. But it already feels like a better show on all other levels : it takes more time to explore the novelty of the setting, and gets some good jokes out of it. It's got decent comedic pacing. The characters have more personality and charisma, and the leads already have some good chemistry. And it doesn't look like it's going to feature any of the creepy NTR that made that other show so painful to watch.

Now, let's be clear : this isn't a masterpiece. But it's a perfectly pleasant show, and that's all I'm asking from it.
 

Bira

Registered User
Validated User
#60
Log Horizon was interesting to me because its protagonists seem to know all about Sword Art Online. One of the first things they say about their predicament is along the lines of "we're trapped inside a MMO? What is this, some sort of fantasy novel?". There's no convenient mastermind to make an expository speech either, but nearly everyone seems to assume they're operating on the same principles as Sword Art Online (i.e. "this world is dangerous now, try not to die").
 
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