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[In which I review] New anime, Summer 2012

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
It's Summer, 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 a year without burning out, so let's push our luck.

As usual, note that I shall be skipping :
- Most sequel series. This means no Horizon on the Middle of Nowhere or Yuru Yuri, 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 Summer won't be on DVD/Blu-Ray for ages.



The anime season normally doesn't start until July 1st, but there's one show who decided to stand out by starting a month early.




Kingdom
(38 episodes)

What's it about ?

War epic set in medieval China.

The first episode is double-sized, which I didn't initially notice until the second commercial break.

Characters

Xin, an 10-year-old war orphan who's housed by the village's mayor. They don't treat him well, but then again he's an annoying little jerk with anger issues. (I'm not sure that scene when he demolishes a wall out of frustration is intentionally funny.)

Piao, his BFF who's in the same situation but gets better treatment because he's, you know, not an jerk. The guy has some genuine charisma, so of course he can't survive the first episode's halfway point.

The plot here is that a random noble dude shows up one day to pick Piao to serve at the Court. Months later, Piao comes back heavily wounded to the village and dies without having had time to explain what the heck is happening. Xin obviously declares vengeance and starts following the map Piao gave him.

The baddies are headed by the King's younger brother, a classist asshole who has a total innocent executed just to make a point. He's making a power play, and somehow this led to Piao's demise. (The first episode doesn't explain how or why, although the ending cliffhanger gives a good hint.)

Production Values

This seems to be fully CG-animated, with copious amounts of cell-shading to give it a more traditional anime look. The big problem is that the body language very often lurches into uncanny valley territory, as the characters are animated to move in really unnatural ways.

It doesn't help that the direction is mind-bogglingly incompetent. Remember when I reviewed 2001's Run=Dim last year ? Well, this falls into the same trap : yes, CG graphics allow the camera to pan over or around the action without losing quality ; but this isn't a good reason to show it off at every opportunity, especially when this effect actually often hinders the storytelling of the shot.

And then there's the continuity issues. It's most hilarious in the early duel scene between the two kids, where the grass grows from merely a texture laid on flat terrain to knee-deep over a few shots.

Overall Impression

Okay, let's leave aside for a moment the terrible graphics and the laughably inept direction. There's no helping that the story just isn't very good by itself, with an annoying brainless protagonist, EEEEVIL villains who can't even chew the scenery properly, and a general level of unpleasantness that's just tiring to watch. (Did that guy really need to sword that kid through the balls ?)

Even for the trainwreck factor this isn't worth 45 minutes of your time.
 

Silver2195

Registered User
Validated User
This thread will be interesting, given the sheer number of Bad Ideas this season. There's a couple shows that are sure to be good (Moyashimon Returns [which, as a sequel, won't be reviewed here]), a handful of shows with a 30% chance of being good (Arcana Famiglia, Estetica), and a whole bunch of shows that are sure to be terrible.
 

ru

temporary avatar
RPGnet Member
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Ah, well you've saved me some effort with Kingdom then.

Just looking through the list of new shows made me feel tired. There's a handful that might be interesting, and a bucketful of garbage as usual ;)
 

MadMac

Registered User
Validated User
After looking at the summer roster, I'm suddenly glad I skipped so many Spring Shows. I'll probably just spend some time catching up over the next three months...
 

Ikselam

may one day be worthy of your grace
Validated User
Just looking through the list of new shows made me feel tired. There's a handful that might be interesting, and a bucketful of garbage as usual ;)
Is it just me, or has there been some type of "Sengoku-era warlords as cute girls" show every other season for the last few years?
 

KoboldLord

Registered User
Validated User
Is it just me, or has there been some type of "Sengoku-era warlords as cute girls" show every other season for the last few years?
The Sengoku-era warlords are a staple of Japanese animation. It's been much longer than the last few years, and in the seasons where they aren't cute girls they're typically ambiguously gay bishounen.

I'm not feeling optimistic about this next season again, but hopefully something interesting will come up. Perhaps I need a break from cartoons for a while.
 

Unseenlibrarian

Definitely NOT a Monkey.
Validated User
Man, this is the season of dreadful harem light novel adaptations, isn't it. I'm pretty sure I see at least 4, maybe more.
 

the_redstar_swl

New member
Banned
The season looks pretty mediocre so far. Only thing that really interests me is Total Eclipse, since it was sold to me as "Balalaika pilots a giant robot."
 
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