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[In which I review] New anime, Spring 2001

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Up to now, I've been more or less sticking to a "real time" schedule, posting reviews of series on the same day they aired 10 years ago. But we're entering a stream of "non-reviewable" shows, which means that the next show airs on... May 8th. Yeah. So I'm fast-forwarding a bit.

The list of skipped series (most of them kids' shows I couldn't get a hold of) :
- [10/04] Tantei Shounen Kageman
- [11/04] Pachislo Kizoku Gin
- [12/04] Steel Angel Kurumi 2 (I probably could have found this one, but it's obviously a sequel)
- [14/04] Go! Go! Itsutsugo Land
- [14/04] Parappa the Rapper
- [03/05] Daisuki! Bubu- Chacha
- [10/05] Offside (sports series about soccer)

So the next show on the schedule is...



Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars (Gakuen Senki Muryo)
(26 episodes)

What's it about ?

2070, a future that's basically the same as now, except we've got neat folding laptops. A giant alien floating thing shows up above Tokyo and wreaks havoc on anything electronic, but nobody really panics because it's quickly dispatched by another giant alien floating thing that looks a lot more friendly (and has the good taste to disappear once it's done its job). Meanwhile, one of the few characters who seems to have a clue about the whole thing moves to a backwater town and enrols in the local middle school. Cue the usual clichés : making friends despite being a bit weird, slice-of-life scenes with the supporting cast, rooftop ki fights with the local bully... Wait, what ?

Characters

Hajime, our narrator, who seems to be a normal middle school boy apart from his habit of droning pointlessly about everything that happens on screen. He'd be quite annoying if not for two points : (1) his general reaction to the alien attack's TV coverage is "Yeah, right...", and (2) there's a point where he turns to the camera while continuing to narrate, and even his little sister comments on how weird his behaviour is. So presumably this is going somewhere.

Subaru, the weird transfer student. He coincidentally had a perfect vantage point with his grandfather when the alien thing showed up, and they both talked as though they knew what was happening. He seems completely clueless about ordinary school life, to the point of showing up in a school uniform despite them being out of fashion for decades.

Moriyamata, the student council vice-president, who immediately pegs Subaru as somehow related to the alien attack, and summons him to a ki fight on the school rooftop. (How they got there is strange in itself, considering the acrobatics Hajime had to perform to join them.) He gets completely (although gently) schooled by Subaru, who offers to teach him to use his ki powers properly.

Production Values

This feels very retro-looking, especially the character designs. But overall this looks quite pretty and well-animated. The opening sequence with the alien attack is impressive, with a nice level of detail for the consequences of the electronic failures slowly propagating through the city.

Overall Impression

This is definitely intriguing. The Evangelion parallels are undeniable, but this has no angst whatsoever and everyone seems very relaxed about the whole thing. In lesser hands this absence of dramatic tension would be a turn-off, but here it feels like it's a deliberate part of the plot that'll be explored in due time.

I want to watch more. Mission accomplished.

Spoiler: Show


SURPRISE ALIEN CROTCH ATTACK !
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Chance! Pop Session
(13 episodes)

What's it about ?

Three girls going separately to a concert of a famous pop-star and stumbling upon a pamphlet for a music school. Presumably they're going to apply, but this is a very slow first episode.

Characters

Reika, the pop-star. There's the very beginning of a subplot with her stern coach (an ex-popstar herself), but it doesn't go anywhere yet.

Nozomi, the very rich and sheltered girl who can afford a first-row ticket and has a watchdog butler following her everywhere.

Akari, the country girl who's an absolute Reika fan. Attends church, has a hopelessly dull sweetheart, the works.

Yuki, the city girl who struggles to make ends meet. She works backstage on the lights. Of the three, she seems to be the one most intent on breaking into stardom. Frankly, she's the only vaguely interesting character here.

Production Values

Very cheap-looking, with limited animation everywhere it can. The songs aren't very good either, which puts quite a cramp on the whole thing.

Overall Impression

I don't want to unfairly knock down a show from a genre I have very little interest in... but this is quite dire. Besides the overall cheapness, this is a very slow start, with barely any plot to speak of. Normally this would be an occasion to develop the characters, but apart from Yuki nobody grows beyond a single dimension.

It's a 13-episode show that barely has any substance in its first episode. Pass.

Spoiler: Show


No backstage pass ? The Kung-Fu Butler (tm) is a more than adequate substitute.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Figure 17
(13 monthly 47min episodes)

What's it about ?
A young girl moves to Hokkaido with her dad and nearly bores me to sleep before seeing an alien ship crash in the woods. The alien pilot is humanoid and probably a good guy ; a monstrous thing has hitch-hiked on his ride and he has trouble fighting it off. Our heroine merges with a sentient alien armor to dispatch the monster, but there's a weird after-effect : the armor has taken human form, which means our girl's now got a twin sister.

Characters

Tsubasa, a very boring 10-year-old girl. Quite asocial, which doesn't exactly endear her to me.

Her dad is a bit more interesting : he moved to Hokkaido after his wife's death (apparently from complications from Tsubasa's birth ?), and is starting over as a baker's apprentice.

The alien dude looks like your standard issue alien action hero, although he's clearly overmatched by the beastie. He's as surprised as anyone when Tsubasa merges and proceeds to kick tons of ass.

By the way, "Figure 17" is the name of the Tsubasa/armor merger.

Production Values

Perfectly okay for this sort of thing, I guess.

Overall Impression

There are series that benefit from the double-length format. This is not one of them, as the pacing is so relaxed it's downright lethargic. We're treated to half an hour of Tsubasa's daily life before anything happens, and that's so boring I nearly gave up halfway through.

Some of the underlying ideas are somewhat interesting, I guess, but I have no wish to wade through hours of navel-gazing before it gets to the point.

Spoiler: Show


Even a Giant Teeth Monster right behind her can barely wake Tsubasa up !
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
And we're done !

So, Spring 2001. 32 shows, 22 of them I reviewed in this thread. How does the tally go ?

I Want More ! [Good/Great] (7)
SoulTaker, Digimon Tamers, Rune Soldier Louie, Zone of the Enders - Dolores I, Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars
(also, Hare + Guu & Noir, if I only had seen the first episodes)

I'd probably have watched these weekly too if I was in the fandom 10 years ago : [Okay] (4)
Angelic Layer, Prétear, Geneshaft, Ask Dr Rin!

No interest into those at all : [Mediocre/Bad] (8)
Comic Party, Princess Comet, Sister Princess, Great Dangaioh, Galaxy Angel, Project ARMS, Chance! Pop Session, Figure 17

Argh ! [Terrible] (3)
Run=Dim, Star Ocean EX, Hanaukyo Maids


That's a pretty good season, all things said. Sure, half of it was bad or mediocre, but you get that in any season. I'm delighted that, despite not knowing a damn thing about any of those shows but two when I started preparing for this thread, I've been exposed to five series I want to watch in the near future.

While I'm in no hurry to try this exercise again anytime soon, I'm curious what the results would have been in another year. I know I haven't seen any of the 20 shows that premiered in Spring 2000 (actually, I have only ever watched one show from 2000, the lowest number in my history since the early 90s - was that year some sort of desert or something ?).

I've considered doing Spring 1992 next year, but on seeing that nearly all of those shows are unavailable now, I gathered it wasn't an option...



So, what did YOU think of Spring 2001 ?
 

dkellis

Registered User
Validated User
Technically Steel Angel Kurumi 2 can be watched without the first, except this is because it is pretty much a repeat of the first, having replaced the Hapless Male Harem Protagonist with a Hapless Female Harem Protagonist. It's a fanservice show of the underwear-and-perverted-situations variety, just with the XY chromosome of the usual protagonist turned into XX.

I mean, I enjoyed it for what it was, but I wouldn't call it "good" by any stretch. I enjoy harem comedies anyway.

I've heard Figure 17 described as "a love letter to the countryside", and the slow pacing was apparently deliberate. I'm not sure how true this is, of course. The idea was apparently to leisurely explore the setting in a quiet way, and the Alien Armour thing was basically to have an excuse to do this exploration through the lens of the character dynamic between Tsubasa and her new twin.

Again, I don't know how true this is.
 

Dawgstar

Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
So, what did YOU think of Spring 2001 ?
It gave us Noir and Rune Soldier, both of which push enough of my buttons to put them on my eventual 'to-buy' list. It also gave us Comic Party, which I swear I remember being panned in the anime mags (lol print lol) of the time. That aside, seems like a decent enough season.
 

jadarx

What time is it?!
Validated User
Hanaukyo Maids reminds me of the time when I watched a ton of anime. Now I just realize that I watched a ton of crappy anime.
 

Katsue

Young Witch
Validated User
Man, Houko Kuwashima was all over that season. She played Kirika in Noir, Dolores in ZOE: Dolores and hapless female protagonist in Steel Angel Kurumi 2. She was also in Angelic Layer and Geneshaft.
 

Katsue

Young Witch
Validated User
I've only ever seen the first episode of Noir, but I remember quite liking it. I note that they have a complete collection out and it's very affordably priced. Darn it.
Noir has an immovable spot as my second favourite anime series. It's not for everyone, but I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys angsty murderers and doesn't mind an anime series having an episodic format. As regards the action scenes, most of them, including the mookfights, are actually better than the one in the opening episode, with the most notable exception being the big mookfight in the two-parter The Cold-Blooded Killer.
 

KoboldLord

Registered User
Validated User
I watched Figure 17 back around… 2003 or so, I suppose. I probably wouldn't make it through the first episode if I tried it for the first time today, but in spite of that it was actually pretty decent, just extremely slow-paced. It actually rationalizes the slowly-increasing stakes of the combat quite well, and the supporting alien character is surprisingly competent.
 
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