[In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2015

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Oh, frack it, I'm not doing a full review of Wish Upon the Pleiades (Houkago no Pleiades). For one thing, I already reviewed the pilot web-thingy 4 years ago, and this first episode is a slightly abbreviated version of the same story. I think Gainax reanimated the whole thing thanks to that sweet Subaru money, but I can't be arsed to track the original version down to compare.

Anyway, it's still as boring and utterly bizarre as a use of a sponsor's money (the magical girls' brooms roar like motorbikes ! The main character is named Subaru ! And, er, that's it for product placement...) ; I can only fathom that the few people left at Gainax needed the money, no questions asked.


On Sunday aired a short called Rainy Cocoa (Ame-iro Cocoa), about a bunch of handsome dudes running a café. It's a string of mediocre jokes and stereotypical characterization that just abruptly stops because we've hit the 2-minute mark. (There's technically a cliffhanger with a dude suddenly showing up, but come on now.) Nothing to see there.

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Triage X
(10 episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a very fanservicey manga series about hospital-themed vigilantes.

Characters

Arashi, our brooding protagonist, and pointman of the vigilante team. Also a high-schooler, because fuck plausibility. His tragic backstory : both him and his best friend Ryu were caught in a terrorist attack, and the only reason he's the lone survivor of that is that the surgeon used parts of Ryu's body to piece him back together. So now he's regularly having visions of kid!Ryu, acting as a sort of moral compass.

By the way, the surgeon was Ryu's father, and is the one who founded and directs the vigilante team Black Label. (They need to excise the cancers of society ! he exposits with a completely straight face to a team that must have heard that speech dozens of times already.) Other members include :
- Mikoto, Arashi's direct partner, who drives him around on a motorbike, if possible with crazy stunts. Such as erupting into a room from a window... on the fourth floor. (How she managed that is left refreshingly unexplored.)
- Oriha, the bomb maniac, who also does stuff like an impromptu musical idol number in front of utterly bemused goons. The camera does its best to ensure we know she wears panties.
- Yuuko, a spotter who shows up sunbathing in a bikini during the opening mission. Her boobs are the first thing the episode opens with.
- And several more boring members. All of them in some kind of nurse/doctor-themed outfit.

Together, they fight crime ! Their initial target was the corrupt head of a construction company ; the other half of the episode is devoted to his son, who is intent on inheriting the family business, and kidnapped an accountant about to talk to the cops, as well as his daughter. Why his daughter ? Because he needed someone to gratuitously torture, and the accountant just wouldn't do !

Tatara is a grizzled cowboy cop who showed up slightly before the heroes in that second case, and without the backup needed to handle the dozens of goons in the building. Frankly I have no clue how he hoped to arrest the son on sheer bravado... which really doesn't work here. I think we're supposed to believe his interference fucked everything up, with the accountant getting shot and the right-hand-man managing to escape, but frankly I'd rather blame our "heroes" for being more showy than effective and bungling this on their own.

Hinako is a schoolmate of Arashi's who's got a crush on him, but clearly her flat D-cup has no chance against the likes of Mikoto (who also attends the same high school). Poor girl.

There's a stinger with a bunch of other villains (most of them female) plotting something in some room where they forgot to put on the lights. Since they've got distinctive character designs and some behaviour quirks, I presume they're gonna be important ; but it's left to future episodes to give us a clue as to what they're actually up to.

Production Values

This is the kind of show where the adverts promise that the DVDs & BluRays won't have any of that pesky steam or random white light. On the other hand, the gratuitous shower scene is the only point where that comes into play ; and it's only the tip of the iceberg for the fanservice here, with most of that uncensored.

Overall Impression

What makes me roll my eyes here isn't the obnoxious fanservice. It's how drab and serious this tries to look despite how ridiculously exploitative everything is. Arashi is drowning in angst, Ryu's father seems to actually believe in his rants, and I'm apparently supposed to take Tatara's feelings of impotence somewhat seriously. Ahah, no. Alas, there is such a thing as being too deadpan, and the show crossed the line. I really hope the manga author had his tongue firmly planted in cheek ; unfortunately, that nuance is lost in adaptation.

One episode of this trainwreck was enough, thank you.

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My Love Story!! (Ore Monogatari!!)
(24 episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a shoujo romantic comedy manga series.

Characters

Takeo, our protagonist, is a hulk of a kid. Despite just graduating middle school, he's about twice as tall as his classmates. He's brusque, not good at schoolwork and a bit dumb, but he's a good kid at heart.

Makoto, his best friend, has nothing in common with him ; he's a handsome kid all the girls around fawn over. Including just about every girl Takeo liked ; they all tend to confess to Makoto before Takeo can make a move. Makoto rejected every single one of them, and Takeo didn't have the heart to push things any further.

If you're wondering why they're friends... well, they're neighbours and have known each other forever. Takeo is the only person who makes Makoto laugh through his bumbling ; and somehow, it doesn't feel mean-spirited. They just feel like they're comfortable with each other.

Yamato is a girl Takeo saves from a groper in the train. The joke is that while she seems genuinely attracted to him, he assumes she's just interested in Makoto standing just behind him, like all the other girls. Cue long series of misunderstandings. (By the way, while Makoto does find her nice - apparently the first time he said that of a girl ever - he's also eager to get out of the way so that Takeo can romance her without obstacle. Unfortunately, he doesn't quite manage to.)

Production Values

Well, shojo adaptation, so expect bright shiny colours and tons of sparkles. The contrast with Takeo's frightening appearance is the whole point, of course.

On the other hand, there are often some gag asides that are just written in the background ; that must have worked better in the original medium.

Overall Impression

Well, that was fun. It's a simple setup, but with charming enough characters and a slightly unusual protagonist that its feel fresher. Hopefully the 2-season length of the show means that they've planned it so that it can have a decent conclusion (although you never know, as the manga is still ongoing).

Anyway, I don't need much incentive to watch a shojo romantic comedy, a genre I always find at least decently entertaining ; and since this seems to be the only such offering this season, I'm not going to be picky. Especially as it's certainly good enough.
 

Unseenlibrarian

Definitely NOT a Monkey.
Validated User
On the other hand, there are often some gag asides that are just written in the background ; that must have worked better in the original medium.
Yona was doing the same thing at times, once it got underway and there was more time for comedy beats. I'm not sure why this has become a thing.
 

Argent

Anywhere... just not here
Validated User
"... they attend the same highschool!" is the Japanese "they fight crime!", right?
 

Quasar

Feeling kinda smurfy
Validated User
Overall Impression

Well, that was fun. It's a simple setup, but with charming enough characters and a slightly unusual protagonist that its feel fresher. Hopefully the 2-season length of the show means that they've planned it so that it can have a decent conclusion (although you never know, as the manga is still ongoing).

Anyway, I don't need much incentive to watch a shojo romantic comedy, a genre I always find at least decently entertaining ; and since this seems to be the only such offering this season, I'm not going to be picky. Especially as it's certainly good enough.
I really liked it, but I'm also a shojo fan to some degree and like what I'd read of the manga. Part of why I'm so positive about it is that the male protagonist is a nice guy for a change rather than the pretty terrible 'treat 'em mean and keep 'em keen' style of male lead that infests the genre.

The look did rather remind me of Chihayafuru. That may just be a coincidence and me reading in outside knowledge.
 
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Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
"... they attend the same highschool!" is the Japanese "they fight crime!", right?
Well, in Triage X they fight crime too !

(Amusingly, two out of three shows in the last update have the main characters not attending the same highschool ; in the shojo one the girl is in a girls-only school, and in Pleiades Subaru and her former best friend had a stupid misunderstanding in their backstory as to which highschool they would go to.)

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Meanwhile, it seems that Funimation finally released the first episode of the one new Monday show, but I didn't have time to watch it last night. So, moving on...


Mikagura School Suite (Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku)
(12ish episodes ?)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a comedy light novel series, itself based on a series of vocaloid songs. Is this starting to become a thing ?

Characters

Eruna, our protagonist, does her best to be as irritating as possible. She's lazy (to the point of playing around instead of choosing a high school to attend after her graduation), shallow (she picks the school her cousin suggests because it's got nice-looking uniforms and dorms), and more than a bit of a pervert. Also, she's clearly attracted to girls, if her dating sims and the way she slobbers over any pretty girl in sight are any indication.

Fortunately for her, the entrance exam is a joke. She gets a ridiculously easy special test ("1+5 = ?"), and a nonsensical interview that she passes just for seeing the magical mascot interviewing her. (There's noise in the background that she got fast-tracked because of her bloodline or something like that.)

The school's gimmick is that there are a number of cultural clubs competing in battles, and the standing of your club determines the quality of your accommodations ; as someone in no club yet, Eruna gets barely any food, 5 minutes of water in the shower, and a sleeping bag in a corridor. This gives her strong incentives to join a club, any club. She just has to find one that'll accept her. Given her obnoxious personality, that's no easy feat.

Each representative of a club we see lugs around a giant symbol of their club, for some reason. So far, we have :
- the enthusiastic head of the calligraphy girl (giant paintbrush)
- the super-shy and apologetic member of the astronomy club (decent-sized telescope)
- the member of the painting club with the face of a thug (and merely some paint on his face)
- ...I'm not sure I want to know what the club of the guy hanging around in the background with a big scythe is about.

Seisa, the headmistress's granddaughter, heads the "going home club" (of which she is the only member), which is apparently a polite excuse for her to stay in her room most of the time. She goes out of her way to offer Eruna potential membership in her club. Eruna is delighted (she'd been drooling over the beauty posing in the school's leaflet for a while), although she's slightly more worried when Seisa asks her to take her place in the club battle... next week.

I have no clue what's going on in the prologue.

Production Values

Quite good. It can sell the school as a place of wonder and weirdness, and it's got decent comedic timing.

Overall Impression

Well, that was certainly baffling. Still, I'm a bit intrigued ; and while Eruna is a terrible excuse for a human being, she's at least entertainingly so. I'm as curious as her as what the heck is going on with this school ; provided some answers come at a decent pace, this could prove to be fun. On the other hand, if it keeps on being gratuitously random and goes nowhere, it'll wear on my patience very quickly.

This could turn out either way ; still, I'm willing to give it a second episode. Don't waste it and please get to the point.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
A few words on a couple of shorts, first.

BAR Kiraware Yasai features a bunch of vegetables having a drink and complaining about how nobody likes them. It's mildly cute as a concept, and at least it's a joke that fits the "series of shorts" format, but there's nothing particularly compelling in the execution to make me come back next week.



Urawa no Usagi-chan is *COME TO URAWA CITY* a series of shorts featuring a girl called Usagi *PLEASE COME, WE'RE DESPERATE ENOUGH TO COMMISSION THIS* who has utterly normal fri- *NO SERIOUSLY, WE NEED YOUNG PEOPLE TO COMPENSATE OUR POPULATION'S AGING* -ends *TOURISTS ARE FINE TOO*...

Excuse me, please wait a second.

/Shoots the representative from Urawa City's tourism board.

Now, that's better. Unfortunately, while there's enough budget to make this look decent, the producers forgot to include anything like a plot, characters doing anything, or even the glimmer of a single joke. It's just a scene that lasts for more that three minutes and accomplishes nothing in that duration.

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EtoTama
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

A comedy show about the the cat being left out of the Chinese zodiac... Wait, Wikipedia claims a manga adaptation of this started publication in 2013. How long has this TV show been stuck in the pipeline ?

Characters

Takeru, our male protagonist, found a cheap house to inhabit. Unfortunately, it's haunted by...

Nyaa-tan, the personification of the Cat zodiac sign. Which doesn't exist in the Chinese zodiac, of course. (She blames the Rat.) She intends to reclaim her rightful place by... actually, I fell asleep halfway through this, so I have no clue what her zany plan entails. The only thing I can see is that the house is no longer standing by the end of the episode.

Takeru is also harassed by all 12 of the other zodiac signs. There's a running joke of nobody remembering those past the Snake, so I'll take that as a cue not to bother listing them all. The only one with a degree of distinctiveness is Chuu-tan (ie the Rat), who smirks in the background while wearing a dominatrix outfit. Of course she does.

Production Values

Nothing to write home about. It's okay, I guess, although some of the signs' outfits are more than a bit fanservicey (especially Moo-tan !).

Overall Impression

Ah, the token series that completely puts me to sleep in spite of its hyperactivity. But then, those one-note characters are unengaging, the central joke isn't particularly funny, and I just can't bring myself to care.

Next show, please !

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Punch Line
(11 episodes, noitaminA)

What's it about ?

"Once he sees underwear, humanity is destroyed!?" is the tagline for this project. It's as good a description as any of the plot of a series that also features sentai super-heroes, ghosts, and time-travel. And panties, of course.

Characters

Yuuta, our protagonist, is in a bit of a pickle. He had a near-death experience in the course of his bus being taken hostage, and unfortunately something has taken over his body. So he's stuck as a ghost, looking for a way to retake his body.

Chiranosuke is a friendly neighbouring cat-ghost who gives him a lengthy explanation about this, and gives him some pointers about a book that could help him. (Nope, I don't trust him either.) Also, he informs Yuuta that while seeing underwear and getting excited will super-power him, doing it twice in quick succession will doom humanity immediately. Like, meteor falls and everyone dies. Fortunately, as a ghost Yuuta can tell causality to take a hike, and go back in time to retry a better path as many times as he needs. Since that involves navigating through an apartment complex with a number of female tenants, that's going to take more than a few tries.

Mikatan is one of his neighbours. He's been introduced to her a few months ago as just a semi-famous singer, but secretly she's Strange Juice (sic), defender of justice ! And she doesn't do that bad a job of it in that bus hostage crisis the series opens with.

Meika, who seems to run the building, also helps her out as mission control. Which might explain why Mikatan's got a secret entrance to an underground base in her flat.

There's also Lovera, the dodgy medium (who by a suspect coincidence was also on that bus), and Ito, the NEET.

And then there's this cocky dude who seems to have orchestrated the bus hostage-taking, and is already at it again that night. I wonder how he fits into all this.

Production Values

WOW. Studio MAPPA have become known for drowning their latest projects in budget and producing impressive animation, but they've outdone themselves here. The bus hostage crisis is by far the most gorgeous and well-paced action sequence of the season so far. And then there's the camera loving to move around in any shot to convey Yuuta's disorientation, an effect that can't be cheap to animate.

Also, kick-ass soundtrack. Apparently that's from the most successful music producer in Japan.

Of course, there's no going around the fact that much underwear is on display here. At least it's varied and never boring.

Overall Impression

Well, that was weird. But it's utterly manic in a way that agrees with my sensibilities : it knows how to use each and every second of screentime to display something awesome, funny, or both. And it's got great comedic timing. (Best joke of the episode : Chiranosuke turning to his laptop to complete his exposition, and having to shut down a window with cat porn before resuming without missing a beat. Second best joke : Mikatan doing an elaborate transforming dance, only to finally put on her Strange Juice costume the old-fashioned way, while Meika just rolls her eyes.)

After a while, the underwear fanservice even becomes a portent of DOOM rather than actually titillating... Which is of course the central joke of the series. It a show that wants to eat his cake and still have it, while having the audience cheer it on. For me, it works.

This is just as good as I was expecting. No way I'm skipping it.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
So, it's been about a week since the season started. There are still a few stragglers to go through (this weekend and... next Thursday for the Trigger show), but I think this is a decent point to do a little retrospective, before the second episodes come in.

How has this season shaken up for me so far ?

Must Watches : (3)
- Punch Line
- Plastic Memories
- Nanoha ViVid
Probables : (5)
- Arslan
- Gunslinger Stratos
- Euphonium
- My Love Story!!
- Seraph of the End
On Thin Ground : (5)
- Blood Blockade Battlefront
- Mikagura School Suite
- Show By Rock
- Re-Kan
- Ultimate Otaku Teacher
No Thanks : (5+shorts)
- Food Wars
- Dungeon Girl-Picking
- EtoTama
- Triage X
- Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan
- All of the new shorts (Vampire Holmes, Rainy Cocoa, BAR Vegetables, Urawa's Usagi)

Now, that's a decent enough slate on its own, even if I'll probably thin it out in the next couple of weeks. But combined with a good number of sequel shows (for me, F/SN UBW, SNAFU, and most probably Knights of Sidonia, Nisekoi & Grisaia) as well as the continuation of shows from previous seasons (JoJo, AssClass, Kuroko's Basketball, Go! Princess Precure, Sailor Moon Crystal, Tribe Cool Crew & World Trigger), that's going to keep me busy enough.


What's striking is how bunched up series have become. Mondays and Tuesdays have been a wasteland for a while, and are now joined by Wednesdays (all of them with one series each at best on my slate). Thursdays, formerly one of the busiest days of the week, have become much thinner (thanks to SNAFU & Re-Kan being streamed on late Fridays, I'm down to only Punch Line and a couple of shorts, with maybe the Trigger show later on). So nearly everything will be broadcast between Friday evening and Sunday mid-afternoon. Wow.
 

Quasar

Feeling kinda smurfy
Validated User
What's striking is how bunched up series have become. Mondays and Tuesdays have been a wasteland for a while, and are now joined by Wednesdays (all of them with one series each at best on my slate). Thursdays, formerly one of the busiest days of the week, have become much thinner (thanks to SNAFU & Re-Kan being streamed on late Fridays, I'm down to only Punch Line and a couple of shorts, with maybe the Trigger show later on). So nearly everything will be broadcast between Friday evening and Sunday mid-afternoon. Wow.
Yeah. Whilst I haven't trimmed much yet, there's like 9 shows on Friday I tried. That's clearly an untenable situation, even if there are two days where there is nothing.
 

Killfalcon

Reasonably Phosphorous
Staff member
Moderator
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Yeah. Whilst I haven't trimmed much yet, there's like 9 shows on Friday I tried. That's clearly an untenable situation, even if there are two days where there is nothing.
Yeah. Streaming makes it easier to spread stuff around: I've had a lot of clashes with LARPing, and being able to just watch it whenever I get time has been great... but nine shows? I don't think I can find time for nine shows a week period.
 

mindstalk

Does the math.
Validated User
Heh, I thought anime club was extreme, at six shows at a time... then again, we watched two episodes a week, so that was 5-6 hours, with OP/ED and break. 9 airing shows weekly would be 3-4.5 hours/week.
 
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