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[In which I review] New anime, Spring 2013

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
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#1
It's Spring, and you all know what this means : a batch of new anime series start airing in Japan. In this thread, I will be reviewing the first episodes of each new series as they come out. At least, that's the plan ; but hey, I've managed to do it for more than two years without burning out, so let's push our luck.

As usual, note that I shall be skipping :
- Most sequel series. This means no Haiyore! Nyaruko-san W or the umpteenth Hayate the Combat Butler series, for example. There's no real point in reviewing them, you already know whether you're part of the audience or not (or if you don't, you're probably going to check the original instead).
- The few kids' show I just can't get any access to. (However, I WILL be reviewing any kids' show I can lay my hands on.)
- Most OVAs, especially "extra episodes". Also, most movies released this Spring won't be on DVD/Blu-Ray for ages.


Let's start with a couple of show which got an early start by being streamed online...


RDG: Red Data Girl
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

Supernatural romance ? Even with three episodes released, it's a bit hard to tell where this is going.

Characters

Izumiko, our female lead in her last year of middle school. She's a shy introvert who can barely do anything without relying on others. She's also terrible with electronics, somehow always breaking them. She lives in a remote shrine deep in the forest. The twist is that she's the host of the local goddess, and thus all kind of nasties are out to get her. Fortunately she's got many bodyguard "monks" looking out for her.

Miyuki, our male lead, really doesn't want to be there, but Daddy has forced him to take up the family business and become her new bodyguard. It's disgust at first sight, and we all know where this is leading.

Izumiko's parents are conspicuously away. (She's hosted by her relatives.) Dad is on another continent, and Mom's yet to be seen.

The OP sequence lists tons of other male characters in a manner suspiciously reminiscent of dating sim adaptations. Hmm...

Production Values

Quite good. It's a notable improvement over studio PA Works's last supernatural project, Another ; here the creepy atmosphere actually works.

Overall Impression

I'm not quite sure about this one. There's nothing particularly wrong about it, and there's several little sequences that are well done (Izumiko's drowning in anxiety in front of a computer, or Miyuki "changing his mind" about staying at the shrine). But I can't quite shake the impression that Izumiko is a very annoying protagonist ; I'm not fond of those wet blankets that have to be saved by awesome but antagonistic dudes.

I'm still watching it, but I don't expect wonders out of it.

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

Date A Live
(12 episodes + a bonus OVA)

What's it about ?

Dating sim mixed with a sentai show. Adapted from a light novel series.

Characters

Shidou, our generic male lead. He's exactly what you'd expect from a dating sim protagonist : a normal high school boy squabbling with his little sister, he's got the mandatory perverted best friend, and he's utterly oblivious about some pretty girls starting to stalk him. Oh, sure, there is some background noise about vast tracts of lands being levelled by "spacequakes" over the last 30 years, but that's just colour setting, right ?

His life changes when he meets a Mysterious Girl In A Skimpy Outfit at the epicentre of the latest spacequake, which happened right down the block. It turns out that spacequakes are actually the result of MGIASOs landing on Earth, so obviously the authorities are hunting them down on sight. The MGIASO escapes in the confusion before they can catch her.

Origami, the school genius, who was stalking Shidou earlier, is one of the mecha-musume that are the frontline defense against MGIASOs, doing this because her family got killed in a spacequake 5 years ago. She urges him not to tell anyone about this side-job.

Kotori, Shidou's sister, is actually the commander-in-chief of the local anti-MGIASOs defense force. No, seriously. That's what her masochist adult subcommander says, so I'll take his word. They've got a spaceship HQ hovering 15,000 km above the city.

The big twist is that the mecha-musume corps isn't quite cutting it (the MGIASOs have way too much firepower), so our heroes have to resort to a new strategy : have Shidou romance them ! (Why him ? I have no clue.) Cue dating-sim training montage...

Production Values

It's a bit hard to judge from the eyebleed-o-vision, but I'm not convinced this has much of a budget. The CG is obvious, the character designs are beyond generic, and the animation's no great shakes.

What is clear is that the fanservice level is noticeably high. We get a bit too much focus on Kotori's panties for my taste, and these aren't the only buttshots in this episode. Also, the camera is very interested in the MGIASO's breasts.

Overall Impression

Well, I'll grant it that : for a show made exclusively out of stock clichés, it actually manages to put them together in a way new enough to be distinctive. It's a joke that gave me a chuckle.

Is it actually good ? Good lords, no. It's impossible to take the rare attempts at emotional impact seriously, given how stupid the premise is. The characters are one-dimensional cardboard cutouts, and none of them look like they'll rise above their archetypes. (Although I'll admit the not-nurse is fun to watch.) It's a show with one joke, and I can't see it lasting for 12ish episodes without becoming tedious.

In another season I might have given this a bit more of a chance for the fun trainwreck factor, but I just can't be bothered.

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

Also, this might be the time to give some thoughts about Anime Mirai, aka this year's iteration of the Young Animator Training Project. For those who don't know, it's a group of four one-shots funded by the Japanese government and produced by notable studios as training grounds for new animators. They're always at least watchable, and there's often a gem hidden among them. (See last year's Wasurenagumo, for example.)

This year, everyone is looking forward to Studio Trigger's contribution, Little Witch Academia. (They're the TTGL/Panty&Stocking/Redline people, hence the hype.) And, well, it isn't as visually distinctive as those, and certainly isn't breaking any new ground. It's just a very well-told and well-animated story made from stock elements, with enough enthusiasm and care to the details to make it very fun indeed.

On the other hand, I'm puzzled by Arve Rezzle. It's a decent sci-fi premise (dude finds out his comatose sister's body is now inhabited by another person (who's amnesiac and can't explain), and then commandos start attacking. The thing is, this is clearly a pilot for a longer story ; nothing whatsoever is resolved by the end of it. Which kinda defeats the purpose of these shorts, really. It's okay, just incomplete.

(I'll comment on the other two when subs surface.)
 

MadMac

Registered User
Validated User
#2
Is it that time already? Man I really need to drag myself away from Dark Souls long enough to watch the final episodes for half of the Winter shows I was watching.

Winter Season I'll say was initially promising but ultimately disappointing. So many shows that started interesting and then slipped steadily into sheer tedium.
 

Wolfwood2

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Validated User
#3
RDG: Red Data Girl
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

Supernatural romance ? Even with three episodes released, it's a bit hard to tell where this is going.
Overall Impression

I'm not quite sure about this one. There's nothing particularly wrong about it, and there's several little sequences that are well done (Izumiko's drowning in anxiety in front of a computer, or Miyuki "changing his mind" about staying at the shrine). But I can't quite shake the impression that Izumiko is a very annoying protagonist ; I'm not fond of those wet blankets that have to be saved by awesome but antagonistic dudes.

I'm still watching it, but I don't expect wonders out of it.
I cut it after one episode because it bored me. I watched too many mediocre anime these past couple of seasons because I wasn't ruthless enough in pruning shows from my view list. Now if I watch the first episode and nothing draws me in, it's gone.

I don't ask for much. A kickass OP would be enough!

Sounds like Date-a-live is going to be goneafter one episode as well.
 

Ikselam

a heavy bear to cross
Validated User
#4
I cut it after one episode because it bored me. I watched too many mediocre anime these past couple of seasons because I wasn't ruthless enough in pruning shows from my view list. Now if I watch the first episode and nothing draws me in, it's gone.
If you really want to save time, don't watch anything at all until a month into the season, then pick and choose based on what people are saying.

edit: Not even being snide; in any given season there's at a better than 50/50 chance that my favorite ends up being something I picked up 3+ episodes in, just because internet discussion made it look interesting. Girls und Panzer being only the most recent example.
 
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MadMac

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#5
I cut it after one episode because it bored me. I watched too many mediocre anime these past couple of seasons because I wasn't ruthless enough in pruning shows from my view list. Now if I watch the first episode and nothing draws me in, it's gone.

I don't ask for much. A kickass OP would be enough!
I know the feeling. I dropped a lot of shows this season, and my only regret is not dropping them sooner. I'll give new shows a chance if they give me something interesting in the first episode, but I don't think I've ever regretted cutting loose that show I start falling behind in episodes because I'm not in the mood to watch it. It's just hard to drop something you used to kinda like, I suspect.
 

Mejiro_Night

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#6
I normally just follow this thread, to be honest... Anyone got a link to the pictorial summary? The only thing I can remember is some kind of Higurashi movie/OVA thing (because they've not squeezed enough blood from that stone just yet) and that Uroboshi is doing something with mechs this time (and probably the hideous death of some of the cast).
 

Rabbit Éclair

high in vital bunnytonium
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Validated User
#7
If you really want to save time, don't watch anything at all until a month into the season, then pick and choose based on what people are saying.

edit: Not even being snide; in any given season there's at a better than 50/50 chance that my favorite ends up being something I picked up 3+ episodes in, just because internet discussion made it look interesting. Girls und Panzer being only the most recent example.
This is pretty much exactly what I do. Sometimes waiting until after the season actually ends. As a bonus, it also means that not only do I watch shows that I'll probably enjoy, but I never have to wait a week to resolve a cliffhanger!
 

Rabbit

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#8
I normally have one i'm looking forward to (which Crunchyroll doesn't pick up, just 'coz) two I'm kinda interested in, one of which will prove to be a crushing disappointment, and 2-3 random shows that prove better than the writeup suggests.
 

Rabbit

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Validated User
#10
To be fair to crunchyroll it's probably because it's too expensive :p
Probably so, but SAO was the rarity last year because it was on my "must see" list and Crunchy got it. Of course they didnt get Psychopass, Robotics:Notes or Chuu2....
 
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