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[In which I review] New anime, Summer 2013

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
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#11
I give up : I can't muster the will of giving Gifuu Doudou!!: Kanetsugu to Keiji ("Dazzling Sengoku Period Story: Kanetsugu & Keiji") a full review. It's going to be hard to beat as the most mind-numbingly dull show of the season. It may be a cultural thing, but those "legendary" men spending their time monologuing in poetry about the beauty of the world, and patting each other in the back on how awesome they are, just bore me to tears. And this ain't helped by the retro-ish artstyle that makes all those 6-feet-tall forces of nature look the same to me.

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Sunday Without God (Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi)
(13 episodes)

What's it about ?

Remember the parable about God creating the world in six days, and resting on Sunday ? Well, here he finished the job in five days, rested on Saturday, and just left on Sunday. As a result, people don't really die anymore, unless those special people called Gravediggers bury them and give them eternal rest.

Characters

Ai, our protagonist, is the cutest little Gravedigger ever : loved by her whole village and her adoptive parents. Sure, she had to bury her own mother and her father is a mystery, but she's happy, right ? And nobody'd ever lie to her about being a Gravedigger, right ?

"Humpnie Humbert", who readily admits this is a bullshit pseudonym (taken from some fairy tale). Unfortunately, this is also the name Ai's mother gave as the father's (which should ring alarm bells to anyone with a lick of sense), which causes a lot of confusion. But not among the villagers, as he's already killed them all. Well, shot them until they became zombies, given how the world is now. Why ? He doesn't say. He much prefers deriding the cruel joke the townfolk inflicted on Ai : Gravediggers don't have parents, they come from nowhere when they're needed. Ai's mother must just have been deluded.

The sad thing is that I can't tell whether this asshole is right ; there are some hints that Ai does have Gravedigger powers... or maybe not.

Production Values

I watched a preview streamed from NicoNico (the show is set to have proper airings starting Saturday), so this means no OP/ED sequences, and eyebleed-o-vision quality. It's still very distinctive artistically, with oversaturated colours all the time (making it seem like all the scenes are shot at dawn or dusk) and a love for Dutch angles. It certainly contributes to the surreality of the whole piece.

Overall Impression

Well, the least I can say is that this is a show that makes an impression. There's a contrast between the bleak premise and Ai's cheerfulness (Aki Toyosaki in full squeaky mode) that makes it way more depressing than if it was just played straight. It's not just yet another zombie show, as it quickly builds up a very distinctive atmosphere.

It doesn't entirely work, though. There are bits where the banter between Ai and the mysterious stranger goes a bit too much comedic to really mesh with the oppressive mood, making the tone of the episode vary quite a bit more than it needs to be really effective. It's a bit too much all over the place.

There are some bits that do work, though. The progressive reveal of that one villager's head wound, that's somehow always out of sight from the camera until he pulls on his hood and you can plainly see that his skull's shape is just horribly wrong, is a very nicely paced sequence. As is the scene where Ai has cheerfully dug up graves for the whole village in advance, and wonders out loud what she's going to do now. Great moments, but the show doesn't quite find its groove yet.

But I'm intrigued enough to give it at least another episode to see where this is going.
 

Gojira

in a rubber monster suit
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#13
As I'm much more of a fan of Kenji Kawai's movie scores, I entered this new miniseries with an open mind... but yeah, this is a noticeable step down. Not horrible, but not much more than serviceable.
According to Anime News Network, Cornelius did the score for GitS:Arise, not Kenji Kawai. So that might explain why it's just serviceable. The only other credit they have for Cornelius on that website is Appleseed.

Edit: Also the Production I.G. website says the same thing.
 
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Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
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Validated User
#15
According to Anime News Network, Cornelius did the score for GitS:Arise, not Kenji Kawai.
Yeah, I knew that ; I merely wanted to say that since I don't think Yoko Kanno is the only composer who can do good GitS soundtracks, I didn't have any problem with someone else doing Arise's. Shame it didn't work out.


And now, one Tuesday show that took a bit to come out, as well as the one new Wednesday show. (For the record, I have absolutely no interest in the new grim'n'gritty season of Tamayura.)


Brothers Conflict
(13 episodes)

What's it about ?

Look, the official abbreviation for this series is "BroCon". Do I really need to spell it out ?
(Adapted from a series of shojo novels, which of course got otome game adaptations.)

Characters

"Chi", our female main character... wait, her real name's never actually uttered at any point in the whole episode ? Wow. Way to make her even more generic. Anyway, her father has just remarried, and so she moves in with her new family, i.e. 13 brothers. (Daddy and new-Mommy actually live elsewhere because work.)

Juli, her pet squirrel. For some reason she can talk with it. It's very overprotective of her, what with her now living with 13 men. Very annoying indeed.

The various brothers don't really get to show off more than one personality trait each, and they're all generically handsome.

Production Values

Perfectly okay for this sort of thing.

Overall Impression

Let's be frank : this is an incest-bait show. I'm not sure how seriously the more proactive brothers are supposed to pursue things, but at the very least there's some insistant teasing. (And just to round things up, the two twin actors also act out a gay scene, because "fun" misunderstandings.) It doesn't help that the --ing squirrel keeps issuing warnings to the MC even when everyone's acting perfectly innocent.

There might be a very narrow audience that finds this kind of show riveting. I'm not part of it.

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FREE! - Iwatobi Swim Club
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

Sports show about FREESTYLE SWIMMING ! Well, whenever they actually get around to restarting the swimming club, presumably.

Characters

Haruka, our lead character. Utterly obsessed with swimming, to the point of wearing a swimsuit (and often not much else) at all times. Unfortunately, his current high school doesn't have a functional pool, let alone a swimming club. And it's too cold to dive into the ocean yet. Not that he's got much competition drive at this point, anyway. If only he got some spark...

Makoto, his best friend from way back. The kind of childhood friend that's totally comfortable with entering his house, finding him in his bath, and gently scolding him for being late. It's pretty obvious that Haruka is mostly ignoring him, but Makoto can't take the hint. He's the guy who acts as a straight man in all conversations.

Nagisa, who used to be in the same swimming club back in elementary school, and only just came back in town, joining the same high school. He's kinda miffed that his old friends aren't doing any competition swimming anymore, but as the enthusiastic one he doesn't let that stop him from convincing the two others to break into their old (abandoned) elementary school at night so that they can retrieve the trophy they had left in a time capsule.

Rin, formerly the fourth member of their relay team and Haruka's rival ; he's just come back from Australia, but has enrolled into the super-elite school nearby with the top-class swimming club. His mere reappearance (checking in on the buried trophy too) is enough to start reigniting Haruka's competitive drive.

Gou, Rin's sister, is in the three others' high school too. She doesn't seem to be very close to her brother, and I highly suspect she's going to be their inevitable swimming club's manager or something. (Also, in keeping with the running joke that all the boys have girl-ish names, she has a boy-ish one.)

Their new homeroom teacher is presumably going to be important too (club advisor, most probably), as a point is made to mention that teaching was her second-choice career. Three guesses what she tried to do before that, and the first two don't count.

Production Values

This features KyoAni's usual attention to detail regarding backgrounds and animation of body language... which in this case means much focus on those young muscled, supple half-naked bodies. But hey, it's not that much different from your usual testosterone-ladden sports show.

Speaking of testosterone, I love the ridiculously gung-ho rap tunes that start playing whenever Haruka & Rin are in the same room.

Overall Impression

The question was on everyone's mind after those trailers : is this just trolling, or is there a proper show in there beyond the homoerotic subtext ? Well, the good news is that this does have a perfectly serviceable premise... but it doesn't rise much above the sea of clichés inherent to the genre. It also has no subtlety whatsoever. (The naming joke mentioned above is spelt out explicitly, for example.)

But hey, I have a weakness for sports shows, and I have no problem watching one that's in about the same league as, say, Kuroko's Basketball. (Well, a bit prettier, maybe.) I'm probably going to keep with it, although I really don't expect it to be great.
 
#16
Oh boy, Free"!"...

The downside of ending up having a tumblr account as a byproduct of following ATLA/LoK news/fandom-related stuff is that I inevitably get flooded with a tide (no pun intended) of indirect reactions about each time that series gets something someone want to broadcast since it was just an Animation Test Reel, so I watched the first episode out of what-the-heck-styled curiosity:

I gotta hand it to KyoAni, they are well aware of the crowd that made that project to be greenlighted. I kept a counter of all the clear fangirl baits while following the story and I'm glad I didn't make it a drinking game: because while Prince of Tennis (as the quintessential Fangirl-marketable Sports Series) gets around 12 pings per episode, Free's first episode broke the 40 mark and the number can be bigger as I didn't include the "You can't say it wasn't intended with a straight face" Opening/Ending combo and my goggles aren't tuned to pick anything beyond the really obvious subtext...

Other that, the technical aspects of the animation were as great as KyoAni's A-game and I'm still quite interested of seeing how its story unfold. I just hope it does grow out beyond fanservice-packed for fanservice's sake or I will not stand my dashboard until Korra's Book 2 gets released.




Anyways, my watch-list for this season are actually for things I know their stories beforehand and I'm just interested in seeing how they got adapted, like Dangan Ronpa and fate/kaleid liner.
 
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ru

temporary avatar
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#17
The animation was amazing, even if you ignore all the torsos. The OP and ED were terrible though.

I didn't actually find any homoerotic content at all (as opposed to simple fanservice), unless you automatically consider semi-clad men to be homoerotic.

I quite like the fact that the main character basically gives no fucks, but apart from that the premise doesn't really grab me. manly rivalry yadda yadda snore. I liked it more when the characters were just hanging out shooting the breeze, once the swimming started I lost interest.
 

Bira

Registered User
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#18
Sunday Without God (Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi)
(13 episodes)
Oh man, this thing. I think I read a couple of chapters of the manga version, and dropped it right quick because the asshole in question was too disgusting.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
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Validated User
#19
I didn't actually find any homoerotic content at all.
Content, no. Subtext, on the other hand ? You'd have to be blind to miss it... but then again, it's a staple of the genre ; it's exactly the same as for series such as Kuroko's Basketball. The only distinctive thing about Free! is that it's so lavishly animated, and comes from a studio that doesn't normally animate this kind of stuff.


On another note, there are SIX new shows starting to air tonight ; the "good" news is that only two are simulcasted and the others can be put off until tomorrow morning. (I'm not sure I'll find the time to watch all of them then, but I'll try my best.) As for the two already available...


Chronicles of the Going-Home Club (Kitakubu Katsudou Kiroku)
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

The "Going-Home Club" is an euphemism for the students who don't join any club and just go home after class. (In the Japanese school system, there's a lot of pressure to join a club, any club for social purposes ; the students who don't are usually a minority.) Here, the joke is that there's an actual official Going-Home Club, with clubroom and everything.

Adapted from a 4-panel gag manga, obviously.

Characters

Natsuki, our point-of-view character ; as a high school freshman, she joins the Going-Home Club on a Wacky Misunderstanding and spends the whole episode (and probably the whole series) complaining on how this club makes no sense.

Karin, the other new recruit of the club. The naive one, who pushed Natsuki into joining despite having herself no clue what the club's about.

Before that, the club had three members : the very enthusiastic president Sakura, and two high-class girls whose social standing demands that they belong to a club but presumably didn't want the hassle of join a real club.

Production Values

Not much good. There are some decent backgrounds, but the animation is very limited and the character designs leave something to be desired.

Overall Impression

Not very good. It's got some decent jokes (I loved the "premature cliffhangers" where the ED music starts playing despite the show not being over), but they get fewer and farther between as the episode goes, and the premise is already wearing thin by the end of it. I just can't see the joke supporting a full series.

Just not funny enough for me to bother with.

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Servant x Service
(13 episodes)

What's it about ?

Work-com about civil servants at the welfare office.

(Adapted from a manga by the creator of Working!!.)

Characters

Yamagami, our protagonist. She has just joined the welfare office for one purpose only : finding and exacting revenge on the person who authorized her parents to name her
Spoiler: Show
Lucy Kimiko Akie Airi Shiori Rinne Yoshiho Ayano Tomika Chitose Sanae Mikiko Ichika [...]
. For very understandable reasons, this is a bit of a berserk button for her, and she's got a general grudge against public servants.

Hasebe, another new hire, is the epitome of everything she hates public servants : he's lazy, takes every opportunity to slack off, and uses his job to try and pick up girls. He's also surprisingly competent and reliable on the very rare occasions he takes his job seriously and helps the other newbies out.

Miyoshi, the third newbie, is very awkward, but absolutely loved by the customers. Maybe it's because she looks like the ideal daughter.

Ichimiya, their supervisor, has eight years of experience... and absolutely no clue how to handle them. He seems to spend half his time running ragged trying to prevent Hasebe from slacking off.

Chihaya, Yamagami's senior at her desk, is very efficient at her job but sounds terminally world-weary. Yeah, this job can do this to you after a while.

Production Values

Quite nice ; a lot of the jokes are sold by the attention given to body language in this. Also, I quite enjoyed the gimmick for the OP sequence (which is only slightly less catchy than "Someone! one! one!").

Overall Impression

Even better than I expected. This is a very funny series, made all the more hilarious because all of it sounds so true. It strikes exactly the right balance between mocking and empathizing with its characters. It's also quite well-paced, letting the mystery of why the heck Yamagami is always hesitating before omitting to say her given name when introducing herself build up nicely. And it's got more than one joke, which is always welcome in a gag show.

Definitely a must-see for me this season.
 

ru

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#20
(For the record, I have absolutely no interest in the new grim'n'gritty season of Tamayura.)
it lacks the quality of scenery porn that the original had, which was really its only notable feature. and the annoying whistling girl still exists.


Servant x Service
Yamagami has great facial expressions.

I hadn't realised it was from the author of Working!, explains why it seems to work better than it sounded. I liked it too - decent set up episode, I look forward to the introduction of more weirdness.
 
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