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[In which I review] New anime, Summer 2013

prototype00

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Production Values

This is clearly a low-budget production, with just enough animation to sell the jokes.

Overall Impression

Uh oh. This doesn't quite work. There are some decent jokes here, but a bit too many of them rely on poop humour. The characters don't have much depth, and Hachiken is more than a bit annoying with all his complaining. And as a whole, it feels very bland, without much of a hook. It has a semi-interesting setting, but that's it.

It may just be a slow start ; I'm willing to give it a bit of rope. But there's nothing particularly enthralling here yet.
Pistols at dawn, Sir!

Actually I didn't know this was out. I'm a huge fan of the manga, so I probably should be watching the anime as well. It is kind of slice of lifey, but I like my stuff that way. Lemme guess, you didn't like Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou either?

prototype00
 
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Jhiday

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Pistols at dawn, Sir!
Let's be clear : I want to like Silver Spoon. I'm aware the manga is well-regarded, and I have nothing against the premise as such. (Heck, I enjoyed Moyashimon a lot, and it covered a lot of similar ground.) It's just that this first anime episode isn't very good or appealing. I really hope the series quickly finds its feet.

(Actually, there were quite a few moments there where I could see a scene working in manga form, but the animated version just falls flat. I blame the dull directing.)

Lemme guess, you didn't like Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou either?
Never heard of it before. A quick search tells me why : it barely got a few OVAs more than a decade ago, and since I very rarely read any manga it's perfectly understandable it completely flew under my radar.
 

Quasar

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The ANN preview guide gives WATAMOTE wildly varying ratings -- 1.5, 3, 4, and 4.5 (out of 5). Wonder how much the viewer's own memories of adolescence count for...
Though ANN...I really don't trust their reviews/previews at all. Some of those folks have giant wheel barrows they are always pushing.

Zacs preview of C3 stood out to me as especially crazy recently.
 

Quasar

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I really really liked it. Then again I seem to have a strong tolrance for minimal information.
I quite liked it too, though I had seen the OVAs. Probably my main gripe is that the setup means no new characters, and from what I understand there was some in the source material that they decided not to use. That and I'm not sure I was wanting the show to go down a darker/big plot road.
 

KoboldLord

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I found the first episode of this season of The World God Only Knows to be more awkward than I expected. I was kind of expecting from descriptions that it would be mostly a matter of fast-forwarding through a bunch of chapters that were pretty much the same as all the chapters before them, and that pretty much happened. But apparently one of the skipped characters is actually going to be important now, and she's going to show up and have lines and stuff just like if we actually knew who she was. Skipping the filler doesn't seem like a very good idea any more, if its going to actually be plot-relevant.

The other first episode recap, Rozen Maiden, I can't see picking up a single new viewer who hasn't seen the previous two seasons. There's a story there that I want to see, but I sure wouldn't have been sold on it if this recap was my first exposure.
 

Dawgstar

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Though ANN...I really don't trust their reviews/previews at all. Some of those folks have giant wheel barrows they are always pushing.

Zacs preview of C3 stood out to me as especially crazy recently.
I don't think Bertschy likes much of anything these days. He's spent way too long trying to ride herd on anime forums which I'm sure is exhausting and frustrating, and I think it's made him really bitter and cynical. It's hard to trust a reviewer who goes into a show with an 'EVERYTHING IS CRAP!' attitude.
 
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Bremen

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I just finished watching Silver Spoon, and speaking as a fan of the manga it does feel a bit clumsy. However, I'm pretty confident that will improve; the first few chapters of the manga are a bit disjointed as well, but I think that gets better fast. It's possible they'll botch the anime version, of course, but there's a reason the manga has so many fans and it isn't the first few chapters.
 

Evil Midnight Lurker

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Today's the day.

The day I find out whether or not they've botched the reimagining of one of the first anime series I ever saw.

The day I learn whether or not I need to find the budget to fly to Japan and punch some people in the face.

Today, Gatchaman Crowds makes its debut.

*waits impatiently, whistling an ominous tune and chewing a feather*
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
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I stopped reading the ANN reviews a while ago, mostly because I don't want to read any reviews before I write mine up, and when I'm done there's way too much to catch up on.

I can understand the wildly divergent grades, though, especially as it's hard to have everyone on the same page as far as grading scales go. (For the record, on MAL I gave WataMote 3/5, which is the default grade I give for stuff I liked but not standing out too much from the crowd, especially with so few episodes out.)


And now, comments about second episodes !

Free! was a bit more fun this time round, and the plot progressed quite faster than I expected. Still not warming up to Gou, though. (That running joke with her name is just tedious.)

Servant x Service was quite a step down from the first episode, especially with the annoying high school girl and the cosplay thing. Hopefully this is just a rough patch, as there's still a lot to like here.

C3-bu has those awesome small fantasy sequences for the (exciting and very nicely choregraphed) battle scenes that are just lovely and worth enduring Ura's shyness for.

Love Lab is still funny. I'm still wondering about the long-term health of the joke, but so far, so good.
 

Jhiday

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Gatchaman CROWDS
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

Cooler-than-thou sentai show.

(This is a revival from a long-lived franchise, but it doesn't look like you need to know anything about previous incarnations of it.)

Characters

Hajime, the latest inductee into the Gatchaman program, a secret underground corps that protects Earth (and apparently some other planets) from otherworldly menace. Technically she's the audience-surrogate who gets told all the exposition, but she's so downright loopy she's a bit hard to identify with. She's a joy to watch as she bulldozes through any attempt by the other characters to keep things serious, though.

Sugane, the "proper" Gatchaman main field agent, who does his best to do things by the book and contain the unrelenting enthusiasm of his new junior. He just so happens to attend the same high school as her. (And there's an entrance to the underground Gatchaman base in the park next door. Hmmm...)

Paiman, the inevitable mascot panda-like alien who gives orders from the base and tries to keep discipline up. Well, at least until the middle of the episode where it just kinda gives up in the face of Hajime.

Wait, no. The real mastermind behind Gatchaman is "JJ", the tall mysterious dude who inducted Hajime (in what's totally not a rape metaphor) and gives orders through riddles transmitted by magic notebooks.

There are three other members to this team (with the implication that there are lots of other teams elsewhere) : the sullen brooding dude who makes the least effort possible, the awful-gay-stereotype guy, and the nearly-mute small swimsuit girl. None of them appear to be doing much in the field, and gay-stereotype-guy outright mention that he can't transform into powered armor.

Our heroes fight otherworldly abominations that look like giant rubik's cubes when they aren't camouflaged as stuff or absorbing people. There's also a creepy dude who shows up for three seconds at the very end, just to be delighted about seeing Gatchaman are real.

Production Values

Awesome. I love this show's aesthetics, with colorful crazyness creeping into the edges of a relatively normal setting until it erupts into full-blown futuristic nonsense like the Gatchaman base. I'm less fond of the bizarre shading in people's hair, but it does help them stand out. Overall, this is very nicely animated, with tons of attention to body language (which is half of Hajime's craziness).

Also, the score is pretty kickass, never afraid of featuring zany "Gatcha!" choruses.

Overall Impression

Downright the most stylish show this season, doing it best to dust off the sentai genre. On that level, it works : it's very entertaining, and it's delicious to look at. Additional points for featuring a quirky girl as its central character.

Now, the big question is : is there any substance in here ? Well, jury's still out, although there's some interesting use of social media throughout. I like the idea that Sugane is participating in what looks like a "good Samaritan" social app, which is a fun concept in its own right.

There are some false notes here and there (the gay-stereotype-dude, and JJ being a bit too creepy for the show's own good), but this is a promising start. Let's hope the show builds upon it.
 
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