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[In Which I Review] New anime, Summer 2014

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
A couple of shorts before moving on to the full Monday shows...

Mobile Suit Gundam-san is yet another of those comedy SD skits Sunrise puts out occasionally. (This one adapted from a 4-panel gag manga.) It starts off by an Austin Powers-style naked dance by Char, which should give you an idea of the high level of humour we're dealing with here. It's mildly funny, but nothing to go out of your way for.

Secret Princess Himegoto adapts a manga about a pretty boy being blackmailed into crossdressing by the student council. It's got a main character called Unko ("Poop"). That kinda sums up my opinion of it.

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Blue Spring Ride (Ao Haru Ride)
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a romance shoujo manga.

Characters

Futaba, our heroine. She used to be quite cute and shy ; unfortunately, that brought on her the scorn and jealousy of the other girls in her class, who made her life miserable. So she reinvented herself as she entered high school : she's now a frumpy mess who goes out of her way not to attract boys' attention. But hey, she's got friends now !

Said friends turn out to be shallow bullies who merely found somebody else to target in their class. It's thus not too surprising for them to be absent of the "main cast of friends" shown in the ED sequence ; a breakup between Futaba and them seems imminent.

Tanaka was a small and a bit feminine boy that Futaba liked in middle school. He disappeared just as they were starting to go out ; suddenly moving out of town without warning. It's all but said his parents had a nasty divorce ; he's now a tall and sullen guy who's going by the surname of Mabuchi. Also, he feels slightly insulted that Futaba took months to notice he was back. Sure, he's changed quite a lot, but so has she, and he recognized her immediately.

What's interesting is that Mabuchi keeps saying that they can't go back to their old romance ; they've both changed too much, and can't turn back the clock. What he doesn't say is that he doesn't like her anymore ; that's how she interprets it, but he clearly still cares. Presumably he just doesn't want to live in the past, and any relationship between them should take into account how they've both evolved. But Futaba isn't getting the hint. Yet.

Production Values

Watercolours and shoujo character designs, of course. Perfectly okay, as it conveys emotions well.

Overall Impression

This starts a bit slow, but it gets much more interesting after the timeskip. Futaba's reinvention is fascinating, and the interplay with her toxic friends makes me cringe (in a good way). And the central conflict is certainly more interesting than your standard romance plot.

Okay, show, you've got my attention. Let's see where you're going with this.

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Hanayamata
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a "cute girls doing cute things" manga. It features Yosakoi dancing.

Characters

Naru, our generic protagonist. She's very ordinary, aside from her frequent chuunibyou-ish quest looking for fairies.

Hana, the new transfer student from America, does look a bit like a fairy, especially as she jumps around town at night. She loves Yosakoi, and wants Naru to join her.

The regular cast also includes Naru's best friend (who had a bad first meeting with Hana), and a rich girl living nearby.

Production Values

Reasonably pretty.

Overall Impression

... zzzZZZzzz... There's nothing objectively wrong with this : it's cute, the characters are well-defined, some of the jokes are funny... But it just can't quite catch my attention. It's too inoffensive to really ping my radar on such a busy season.

I have more interesting shows to watch than this. Too bad.
 

Wolfwood2

Registered User
Validated User
Survival Game Club! (Sabagebu!)
(12ish episodes)
I watched this now that it aired properly.

"You don't have to apologize. That would make my revenge less sweet!"

The not-so-hidden sadistic side to Momoka's personality adds a lot of humor to this. Structurally the show is pretty routine, but the jokes are really good.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
So, the surprise bonus review. See, the reason I took Saturday off from reviewing is that I went to France's Japan Expo. I had tons of fun, but the cherry on the cake was the worldwide exclusive preview of one new anime series airing this summer. It's all the more surprising because it's not premiering in Japan until this Thursday, and here we got to watch the first two episodes. Kudos to the con staff for arranging such an event.

There was also a showing of the K movie that day, but I just couldn't be bothered.

(This review only really covers the first episode's events, although I may be benefiting from some hindsight after having watched the second.)


Terror in Resonance (Zankyou no Terror)
(11 episodes, noitaminA)

Spoiler: Show

What's it about ?

It's the grand reunion of director Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo) and composer Yoko Kanno ! Okay, it's the third time in two years, but he's barely directing any of Space Dandy himself, and let's just politely forget about Kids on the Slope. This is much more like it : a more personal original anime series that he's apparently been trying to produce for years. Given the subject matter, I believe him.

This is a show about terrorism. And it's not pulling any punches.

Characters

The story focuses on a team of two teenage terrorists, Nine & Twelve. (They've got proper names they use at school, but those are most probably aliases.) Nine is the tall guy with glasses and scary eyes ; Twelve is a cheerful ball of energy whose playful attitude and smile are no less scary. Together, they commit acts of terror. Stealing plutonium from a secure recycling facility, setting off bombs that destroy most of a skyscraper, posting cryptic videos on YouTube, the works.

Their motives remain nebulous. Their very codenames suggest there's somebody else pulling the strings. They feel righteous in their attacks against modern civilization, but the short flashbacks/dreams about their childhood only raise more questions over how they got there. What's clear is that they are ready to kill.

Lisa is another student attending their new high school. Withdrawn and a frequent target of bullies until Twelve rescued her, mostly for the lulz. Later on, she randomly bumps into him in the middle of placing bombs, and Nine offers her a choice : dying or becoming their accomplice.

Before the skyscraper attack, the police aren't really paying attention to some random videos on the web (the uranium theft six months ago is top secret, of course) ; that's obviously going to change. The script gives plenty of screentime to a bored police inspector who spends his time solving crosswords while his partner surfs around the Net ; presumably he's going to be important in the investigation.

Production Values

Very good. The direction makes the terrorism sequences look like clockwork : while it's not immediately obvious what the end objective is, the various steps are perfectly clear to follow.

Yoko Kanno's soundtrack is ace, of course. Maybe one of her best scores in a while.

Overall Impression

Well, this was impressive. This is basically filmed like a heist movie, except we have no clue whatsoever about what drives the protagonists, to say nothing of their endgame. What helps considerably is how plausible most of their attacks are ; whoever designed them did their research well. (The second episode opens with a scene of the police piecing out what they did exactly, and it turns out to have needed very little resources, merely impeccable planning and timing. Also, tons of refuge in audacity.)

I'm slightly less confident on how Lisa is going to fit into all this ; I presume it's going to be more interesting than introducing some tepid romantic tension. Still, I'm willing to give the show the benefit of the doubt on this, as everything else is very intriguing indeed.

A good thriller by masters of the form. Definitely one of the highlights of the season.


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And now for the one Sunday show no simulcaster has picked up yet...


La Bonne Vie (Jinsei)
(13 episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a comedy light novel series.

Characters

Yuuki, our generic highschool student male lead. He's been tasked by his cousin (who's the president of the Second Newspaper Club) to shepherd the life advice columnists. Which mostly means he has to play the straight man to those bozos.

Rino, the science specialist, is an arrogant and socially awkward nerd whose idea of casual conversation involves advanced scientific topics that leave everyone else baffled. Also, she's obviously being pushed by the other characters to become Yuuki's love interest ; she's not entirely uninterested, but it's going to be a long road.

Fumi, the humanities specialist, is a nice girl who tries desperately to accommodate everyone, however absurd that may be. Also, big jugs.

Ikumi, the sports specialist, is athletically superhuman, but rarely bothers to consult her brain before acting.

The format involves Yuuki reading aloud letters from other students (3 this episode), and the four of them brainstorming an answer to publish ; since the three specialists have wildly different opinions and agendas and keep going on completely unrelated tangents, the final result is usually utterly chaotic.

Production Values

Decent, although the shine in Yuuki's hair is really distracting.

Also, there's a completely gratuitous wet T-shirt scene, and some breast fondling.

Overall Impression

Oh, dear. This is a gag show that just isn't funny. Most of the jokes are too laborious or over-extended to work, when they're not completely impenetrable. It doesn't help that a lot of them rely on walls of text that probably worked better in the source medium. Moreover, the format is already starting to get repetitive.

Well, they can't all be winners. Having two good comedy shows this season (three if you count Barakamon) is already pretty good.
 

No-Brand Hero

Heroicus Genericus
Validated User
I saw that in the other thread, but isn't the odango-atama bickering more of a Mamoru thing than a Tux thing? Or is it just that we usually see Tux in combat, or otherwise interacting with her in Sailor Mode?
I'd say it's the latter. Tux isn't a different person, per se, just a separate awareness. It's not like he changes at all once he gets over the split identity thing.
 

Quasar

Feeling kinda smurfy
Validated User
Terror in Resonance (Zankyou no Terror)
(11 episodes, noitaminA)

Spoiler: Show

What's it about ?
Spoiler: Show


Curious to see the US fan reaction. I've already seen a bunch of upset over New Orleans being destroyed in another anime. So this with terrorist protagonists will be interesting.
 
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Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Momo Kyun Sword
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a light novel series very loosely based on the tale of Momotarou.

Characters

Momoko, our teenage female lead. Born from a peach, and also blessed with huge peaches in the front. (This terrible pun isn't mine, the show did it first.) Also, dumb as a hammer.

She has three sidekick gods : a monkey, a dog and a pheasant, who get the straight man role by default. She can fuse with any of them to get superpowers.

The plot, such as it is, involves demons looking for "peach fragments", and the Heavens sending a team of four warriors to stop them. They're completely useless, and Momoko ends up saving the day. She's enlisted to keep up the good fight.

Production Values

So much fanservice ! Everyone, and especially Momoko, shows so much skin it's a wonder their clothes don't fall off. Momoko still gets her clothes shredded at the end, because of course.

Overall Impression

I knew we were missing something this season : the vacuous fanservice-fest with barely an excuse plot. It's terrible on every level, really. It's not even worth my time deriding it.

Really don't bother with this one.
 

Shay Guy

Registered User
Validated User
I'd say it's the latter. Tux isn't a different person, per se, just a separate awareness. It's not like he changes at all once he gets over the split identity thing.
So does Mamoru remember this first meeting with Usagi before then?
 

Quasar

Feeling kinda smurfy
Validated User
Momo Kyun Sword
(12 episodes)

Production Values

So much fanservice ! Everyone, and especially Momoko, shows so much skin it's a wonder their clothes don't fall off. Momoko still gets her clothes shredded at the end, because of course.

Overall Impression

I knew we were missing something this season : the vacuous fanservice-fest with barely an excuse plot. It's terrible on every level, really. It's not even worth my time deriding it.

Really don't bother with this one.
Well I didn't listen. I figured hey, I don't mind fan servicey shows. Almost stopped it during the opening credits. Did stop it around 10 minutes or so in. A combination of her costume and intelligence caused my brain to try to throttle itself.
 

ShanG

青铜时代的中&#
Validated User
Curious to see the US fan reaction. I've already seen a bunch of upset over New Orleans being destroyed in another anime. So this with terrorist protagonists will be interesting.
Well, being a Usasian myself, I have to say I place fictional terrorists bombing fictional buildings pretty low on the outrage meter - Right around the same level as fictional assassins, fictional murderers, and fictional giant monsters smashing buildings.

It's way less offensive to me than the 'Japan was just an innocent victim in WWII!' subtext that pops up with distressing frequency in Japanese media. But that's just me.
 

Bull

Professional Game Convention Drunk
Validated User
Well I didn't listen. I figured hey, I don't mind fan servicey shows. Almost stopped it during the opening credits. Did stop it around 10 minutes or so in. A combination of her costume and intelligence caused my brain to try to throttle itself.
I have yet to watch. I don't know if I will. I don't mind fanservice (And hey, I'll specifically watch a show FOR it), but if the story, characters, and everything else are bad... I'll pass. And this one seems to be getting tanked pretty hard. May still watch the first episode just for shits and giggles though.
 
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