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[In which I review] New anime, Spring 2012

Wolfwood2

Registered User
Validated User
#51
And I was looking forward to this. Oh, well. I can use that it doesn't have a simulcast as an excuse to give it a miss, until it is announced to have one (probably by the time I finish typing this sentence, knowing me) and give it a look. It turns into pretty-good shonen battle, but it takes a while. This proves my point (that I made to myself) that long-running series turned into manga aren't really for new folks, but rather to grab ratings and sell more merch and DVDs to comic readers. Obvious observation is obvious.
I was really worried about Medaka Box after reading Jhiday's review, but now that I've watched it I have to disagree with him. Yes the art wasn't great and it had a lot of fan service, but they managed to pack the first episode full of the story's central themes. I loved it.

I wouldn't call it a Haruhi/Kyon dynamic either. Medaka never once insults Zenichi and states several times how important he is to her. And Zenichi never claims Medaka isn't completely awesome; he just doubts that she actually needs him around since she's an invincible, infallible superwoman. (Okay, she drags him around a bit. But unlike Haruhi and Kyon, it's because she knows him so well rather than because she's ignoring his feelings.)
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#52
Eh, it seems I didn't quite communicate why I disliked Medaka Box, but I don't have time for developing my reasoning until later this evening. In the meantime, have three new reviews.

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Sengoku Collection
(12ish episodes ?)

What's it about ?

Gender-swapped Sengoku warlords thrown into the modern world.

Adapted from a cardgame app, because that's a thing now.

Characters

Nobunaga Oda, the only girl who really shows up this episode. She's shangaied away from her parallel world because... er, it's not quite clear... and drops from the sky into current Tokyo. She eventually learns she's not the only one and she's gonna have to battle others like her to get back to her world, but most of the episode is spent on the culture shock.

She quickly shacks up with a poor random wage-slave dude, who's somewhat bemused by this weird girl who won't take no for an answer.

And that's basically it for the cast this episode.

Production Values

Surprisingly good for this sort of thing. There's a care to the animation that's entirely wasted on such a project. (I guess Brains Base had to pay the bills and couldn't find anything better to do...)

Overall Impression

Gender-swapped Sengoku warlords ? It's been done already. Girl from a magical world who falls on some guy's lap and experiences some "hilarious" culture shock ? Done to death too. This series is proof that bringing the two concepts together creates absolutely nothing of worth.

Of course, this show could have been saved through superior execution. But we don't get that here : the characters are the same boring archetypes as usual, and there's no spark whatsoever to this. The animation's good, but that's not enough to overcome the tediousness of the whole affair.

Pass along, nothing to see here.

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Sankarea
(12ish episodes)

What's it about ?

Romantic comedy. With zombies.

Characters

Chihiro, our protagonist. Completely obsessed with zombies : he's got an impressive DVD collection and tons of related toys and props. And yes, he has a zombie-girl fetish. His pet cat just died, so over the last few days he's been scurrying off to a condemned building and trying experiments from some random book he found somewhere so as to raise it from the dead. Because (1) he was very fond of it, and (2) hey, zombie-cat ! He's perfectly aware it probably won't work, but one never knows...

Rea, the title character, a girl who coincidentally screams into a well nearby the same condemned building in order to vent her frustrations. She comes from the very rich Sanka family (they own the local girls' high school), and finds herself crushed by the weight of expectations. After the two of them meet and become quick friends, she makes it clear she's willing to run away from her life with him. He turns her down ; he's only interested in zombie girls. Well, if that's the only problem...

Rounding up the cast are Chihiro's family (busy priest father, dead mother, deadpan little sister, friend-zoned cousin), and his few friends at school (including the token perverted best friend, who doesn't stand out much next to the guy with a zombie-girl fetish). The OP hints we're also going to see Rea's family at some point.

Production Values

Wait, did Deen hire someone from SHAFT, or is this director even ANN has never heard of just a Shinbo fanboy ? Okay, this is nowhere near the craziness of the -monogatari series, but it does copiously pick from SHAFT's usual bag of tricks : long shots, shots from above, close shots on body parts, editing used in a way that punctuates the dialogue, a good use of shading and shot framing to build atmosphere...

Well, whatever, I'm all for techniques that make the most of the medium to improve storytelling becoming more mainstream.

Overall Impression

Hey, this is actually quite good ! I like Chihiro and his sense of humour (Ryohei Kimura's charisma strikes again), the two leads have chemistry, and the artful direction doesn't hurt. The setup is intriguing, with a killer cliffhanger (What did Rea actually do ?) that makes you want to come back for more.

Did someone say that out of the four "My Girlfriend is a X" adaptation, one of them should be good ? Well, this seems to be the one.

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Polar Bear Cafe (Shirokuma Cafe)
(?? episodes)

What's it about ?

Gag series set in a world where animals live like (and coexist with) normal people.

Characters

Panda, our protagonist. Your typical teenage boy who spends his time loafing around (eating bamboo). He gets pestered by his mother into getting a part-time job, so off he goes, with little enthusiasm. No, scratch that, the main problem is that he's too honest. ("Are you actually going to do any work once you're hired ?" "Probably not.")

Mr Polar Bear, owner of the next-door café. He's looking for a part-time waiter ; believe it or not, Panda is the best of the five applicants he gets. He's got a running gag where he'll mishear an order and bring something ridiculous to fit a pun ; it just doesn't work outside of Japanese, and the CR translator appear to have just given up on making sense of it.

Mr Penguin, a regular patron of the Polar Bear Cafe. He's mostly there to be the straight man penguin in the jokes.

Production Values

Not very high, but it's got a distinctive artstyle, with all the animals depicted realistically.

Overall Impression

Wait, this is actually quite funny ! It helps that it's got an incredibly star-heavy cast (Jun Fukuyama, Takahiro Sakurai, Hiroshi Kamiya...) who can pull off deadpan insanity without breaking a sweat. Okay, I could do without the "mistaken order" running gag (which doesn't have much to do with the rest of the series anyway), but the general setup is a great joke that is executed very well.

Now, the question is "how long can this sustain itself ?" This is a daytime show, so there's always the possibility it'll continue going way past its sell-by date. On the other hand, I doubt this kind of humour has more than a niche appeal, so I wouldn't expect it to last too long before being cancelled.
 
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Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#54
Isn't this the exact same thing as Battle Girls Time Paradox?
No, that one had a girl from the modern world thrown into a parallel world of gender-swapped Sengoku warlords. In other words, it was the exact opposite.

(Also, it had a Nobunaga voiced by Revy. This one's voiced by Cure Muse. Definite charisma drop.)
 

bv728

Was he a violent man?
Validated User
#56
Sankarea
(12ish episodes)

What's it about ?

Romantic comedy. With zombies.
The manga starts off strong then settles in for the long haul and doesn't keep the quality up, but the demented concept isn't only played for laughs and works to keep actual dullness from setting in.
 

bv728

Was he a violent man?
Validated User
#57
Sankarea
(12ish episodes)

What's it about ?

Romantic comedy. With zombies.
The manga starts off strong then settles in for the long haul and doesn't keep the quality up, but the demented concept isn't only played for laughs and works to keep actual dullness from setting in.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#60
So, Medaka Box. It seems I didn't quite manage to articulate what bugs me about it.

A big problem is that, despite her awesomeness, Medaka somehow manages to be bland. Her "I don't care about being awesome, I just want to help everybody" philosophy isn't particularly enthralling either, mostly because the show wants it to be a grand reveal despite being perfectly obvious from the start. (And the flower thing is just silly in its clumsiness. Or maybe it's just the clunky dialogue bringing the whole scene down.)

But the most problematic part of the show is Zenkichi, the Kyon wannabe. Yes, Medaka is completely unlike Haruhi because she doesn't abuse him and is perfectly open about why she keeps him around. She's no tsundere, whatever he claims. THAT's what makes his attitude so annoying. It feels to me that the only reason he's so hostile in this first episode is to provide artificial conflict, which is just poor writing all around. He's been around her since childhood, he shouldn't need a grand reveal about her outlook in life at this point.

Also, the show spends far too much time on him telling us how awesome she is, instead of, you know, showing us her being awesome (which are the moments that do work).

I've heard that the manga gets way better down the line, after a genre change or two. Then, they really should have skipped those terrible first few dozen chapters (or skipped through them, only including the actually relevant parts for the future). Because at this rate, it's hard to imagine this anime adaptation even getting to the good parts...

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Acchi Kocchi
(12ish episodes)

What's it about ?

Idiot hair, the anime.

Okay, not really, but it's hard to find any actual premise here. It's a gag series set in high school, adapted from a 4-panel manga.

Characters

Tsumiki, our central character. She's short and very shy. Also, utterly improbable hair. She randomly sprouts cat ears whenever the show wants to make her cuter, which just looks a bit weird.

Io, her kinda boyfriend. He's a boy of few words, and it's hard to say at this point whether he's deadpan or just bland.

Mayoi, their insane troll friend. She likes pranks, and the labcoat she's always wearing makes her a technical genius, which is a dangerous combination.

Hime, their perverted fangirl friend. The kind who always gets nosebleeds when they do something cute. A bit ditzy and clueless.

Sakaki, the mandatory perverted best friend dude. Well, at least he's more subdued and has more charisma than the norm.

Ms. Sakuragawa, their clumsy teacher with no authority whatsoever.

Production Values

Pretty scene transitions ! It's almost a shame that these nifty geometric gimmicks don't bleed more into the actual sketches, because they give the show most of its identity.

Overall Impression

Your token generic 4-panel gag series. Perfectly inoffensive, and most gags do trigger a smile, but the only distinctive thing about it (besides the scene transitions) is that it's somewhat gender-balanced and centers on a romance subplot (that probably won't go anywhere).

Eh, it looks like there's nothing else on Fridays anyway, so I may well stick with it.

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Some thoughts on more short series I won't be making full reviews of :

Gakkatsu ("Homeroom") is very bizarre indeed. The abrasive class rep organizes a debate about some inane topic (today : "what's the name of that bump on your arm that's equivalent to the ankle ?"), except she discards any argument she doesn't like. It's rapid-fire comedy building to an utterly stupid conclusion, but I'm not sure I actually find it funny. I'll need a couple more episodes to decide.

Yurumates 3Dei has no 3D whatsoever, it's just that there were two OVAs before this series ; fortunately, this looks like a fresh start. Unfortunately, this takes most of its three minutes to establish the premise (a condo house in the suburbs of Tokyo where former high school students go to prepare another go at college entrance exams ; there'sno privacy whatsoever and the place looks a bit run-down) and the characters don't get much depth. I was vaguely interested in the subject matter, but it doesn't look like it'll be going anywhere interesting (and even Acchi Kocchi looks more satisfying as far as 4-panel gag manga adaptations go).
 
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