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[In which I review] New anime, Summer 2011

JELEINEN

Sizzler Black Squadron
Validated User
Mawaru Penguindrum

Himari, their sister, is afflicted with one of those undefined fatal anime diseases.
They seem to have heavily implied a brain tumor or cancer.

Fun show and I can't wait to see where it goes.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Bunny Drop (Usagi Drop)
(NoitaminA, 11 episodes)

What's it about ?

At a family reunion after his grandfather's death, a man has parenthood suddenly thrust upon him.

Characters

Daikichi, our protagonist. 30 year-old. He seems to be a bit the black sheep of his family, seen a bit as a slacker (especially as he's still single).

Rin, a 6-year-old girl, and technically Daikichi's aunt (apparently Grampa was pretty spry even in his seventies). Her mother having disappeared gods know where and Grampa having just died, nobody in the family's really keen on taking care of her... except for Daikichi, who's somewhat hit it off with her and steps up to take her under his wing. Does he know how to take care of a child, especially one as taciturn as Rin ? Of course not, but he'll learn it on the fly. Hopefully.

We see a dozen other family members at the family reunion/funeral, but none of them leaves much of an impression... aside from Reina, Daikichi's niece, who's every bit annoying as any child that age can be at such a solemn gathering (cue embarrassed looks from her mother).

Production Values

Pastels everywhere ! (Although it's not as deliberately artsy as Wandering Son.) The animation team seems mostly interested in carefully transcribing every character's expressions (especially Daikichi's perpetual frown), which is of course the most important with such a story.

Overall Impression

Well, that's certainly different from the sound and fury of nearly everything else this season : a calm, laid-back inter-generational drama piece. It's every bit as good as you'd expect from NoitaminA's reputation and the buzz from the original manga (which I've heard is quite acclaimed).

The nascent chemistry between Daikichi and Rin (and their alienation from anybody else) is carefully established through body language and very sparse dialogue (I think he barely says ten lines to her before offering her to go with him, and she's been entirely silent up to that point), without anything as clumsy as narration or internal monologue. I like this minimalistic approach.

Obviously it won't be everyone's cup of tea, but it's very good at what it does.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
No. 6
(NoitaminA, 11 episodes)

What's it about ?

In the future, after a near-apocalypse, most humanity has settled in a few super-awesome cities where they live carefree existences in a hi-tech environment... Well, at least that's the official story ; considering there's a Ministry of Peace around, I really doubt it's as utopian as it claims.

Characters

Shion, our point-of-view character. A very mellow and easy-going high school kid who feels a bit constrained by society's straightjacket. The utopian setting means he's on the fast track to elite university and possesses very good first aid skills. He lives with his mother in the kind of house that clearly establishes him as very high in the food chain. (Or maybe everyone's got one of these in the utopia, but I really doubt it.)

Safu, Shion's classmate, who's clearly interested in him, but gets politely relegated to the friend zone, to her despair. We also get to see her grandmother, who's clearly bored out of her mind considering the dozens of hand-knit sweatshirts in her closet. (Utopia, my ass !)

Nezumi, an escaped convict who takes refuge in Shion's house (who had left the window open). To his surprise, Shion doesn't report him to the authorities, and actually hides him and nurses him back to health. Now, Nezumi clearly ain't has bad as the newsflashes make him out to be, but Shion's reaction is hard to explain unless you just accept it as part of his personality... And, well, I'm told the original novels played up the gay subtext a lot more, which I have no trouble believing.

Production Values

It's Studio Bones : of course it looks good. The direction's not particularly subtle, though (witness the numerous close-ups on the kids' RFID tags !).

Overall Impression

This is obviously an ambitious project, earnestly trying to be meaningful and deep... but I'm not convinced it works. It's way too unsubtle in its depiction of the udystopia, and I get the nagging feeling we're heading for "Shion and Nezumi grow close together while running away from the authorities", which isn't a story I have the least bit of interest in.

I'll give it another episode to try and convince me there's more to it, but I'm not hopeful.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
The iDOLM@STER

What's it about ?

Twelve young idol wannabes learning the job at their production company. (It's an adaptation of a series of simulation games where you're the producer and have to build them into proper stars.)

Characters

I'm not going to go into much detail about each idol : there's the girl-next-door, the super-timid one, the annoying twins, the hick who loves animals, the trust-fund-kid who's in it to get adored, the troll, the serious one who just wants to sing, the sleepy one...

We also see a bit of the production staff... and of course one of them's an ex-idol.

In this episode, a new producer is put in charge of grooming them up to stardom... but he spends most of the episode pretending to be a cameraman filming a documentary on them (he's actually trying to get to know them better, without them sucking up to him too much).

Production Values

Very average. Most of the episode uses the framing device of being some sort of documentary/realTV show... with a lot of "candid" moments that actually feel horribly manufactured, like all realTV to me. Also, for some bizarre reason the "cameraman" 's questions are shown only in subtitles (as if this were a game)... despite producer guy getting proper dialogue at the end. It's quite baffling.

Overall Impression

Wow, this is terrible. The approach of developing all the characters at once is very unwieldy and the realTV framing device feels horribly artificial. None of the girls rise above their archetypes, and all told it's a very boring watch.

If anything, this has made me slightly interested in the actual games (I like simulation games, and this sounds as good a concept as any other). But watching a full TV series of this, without any player interaction ? Get out !
 

nargun

New member
Banned
Also, for some bizarre reason the "cameraman" 's questions are shown only in subtitles (as if this were a game)...
I've seen this enough times to suspect that this is a not-uncommon technique in real japanese documentary and reportage.
 

David J Prokopetz

Social Justice Henchman
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Wow, this is terrible. The approach of developing all the characters at once is very unwieldy and the realTV framing device feels horribly artificial. None of the girls rise above their archetypes, and all told it's a very boring watch.
Does it at least cut back on the games' penchant for creepy little-girl panty-shots?
 

Yo! Master

"Delicious"
RPGnet Member
Validated User
I've seen this enough times to suspect that this is a not-uncommon technique in real japanese documentary and reportage.
Huh, now that you mention it, yeah - but it never connected the dots between the times i've seen it myself as an actual, y'know, thing.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Does it at least cut back on the games' penchant for creepy little-girl panty-shots?
I didn't notice anything particularly blatant of the sort... Wait, sleepy-girl does get the camera focused on her crotch for half her screentime.

But most of the show is pretty tame, and it could have been way worse. As such, it's just very, very dull.
 

MelanisZbri

Member
RPGnet Member
Bunny Drop (Usagi Drop)
(NoitaminA, 11 episodes)
Caught this one last night. The art style took a little while to get used to, but I was absolutely blown away by the story and the silent ways the characters can express their feelings and emotions. And yeah, the 'saying goodbye' scene killed me.

- Ma'at
 
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