(And really, any definition of the harem genre that leaves Love Hina out can't be workable.)
Zen's not a moron, he's just got so much Panache it gets him in trouble.
And, wow, I take a day off and already the backlog's piling up like crazy. Monster Girls will wait tomorrow for when I gather the will to write up a show that sent me to sleep ; in the meantime, have five more reviews.
I'm sure that, like me, you rolled your eyes when Bikini Warriors showed up on the schedule, especially as an adaptation of a line of "sexy" figurines. The good news is that this series of comedy shorts makes its tired cliché of a premise the central joke. Yes, those bikini-style armours are ridiculous and can't protect much ; let's have fun with that ! And frankly, the few chuckles it raises are enough to overcome the rudimentary animation and the obnoxious fanservice. It just about gets away with it, and that's the best it could have ever hoped for.
Million Doll is an adaptation of a web manga series as 8-minute shorts. It's an exploration of idol fandom culture that just rubs me the wrong way. I think that's because it seems to lionize its shut-in protagonist and agree with her contempt of the more dilettante fans who are quick to move on from an idol group to the next... never mind that she's already much creepier and unhealthy than all of them combined. It's a show that requires you to adhere unconditionally to the glamour of the idol subculture (and dismisses its unpleasantness as coming from a few icky fans), and that's not something I can get into. It doesn't help that it's barely animated, and suffers from a downright ugly CG-animated dancing opening sequence. Avoid like the plague.
Castle Town Dandelion (Joukamachi no Dandelion)
What's it about ?
Adaptation of a 4-panel gag manga. Wait, the author's named "Ayumu Kasuga" ? Osaka is drawing manga now ? Well, that might explain the weird premise.
The series focuses on the Sakurada family, whom beyond Mom and Dad are composed of 9 siblings of various ages. All of them have different superpowers.
Also, Dad is the king of the country. But he insisted on having his family live a "normal" life, so they all live in the suburbs, and attend normal schools in the neighbourhood. Sure, there are tons of bodyguards trying to stay inconspicuous, but it seems to work out.
Aoi, the quiet eldest daughter, is about to graduate high school, so Dad has decided it's time to settle on a heir to the Crown. Through a televised popularity contest in the whole kingdom, of course ! And so each of the kids will be assigned points in a series of trials.
Akane, our teenage protagonist, could do without that. She already didn't like the attention of the thousands of security cameras observing the neighbourhood, and the attention is only going to get worse. It doesn't help that her own power, weight control (which she mostly uses as a form of telekinesis and flight) means she must be very cautious to avoid underskirt shots.
As for the other siblings, they don't get to be much more than one-note so far.
Decent, and the camera refrains from doing any actual panty shots of Akane. You have my thanks, show.
Well, it's a quirky comedy with a bizarre premise that somehow completely fails to catch my attention. Maybe it's the haphazard pacing ? Or maybe it's just me getting a bit tired ?
Anyway, I won't be watching any more of this, despite there being nothing really wrong about it. I just have to draw the line somewhere.
Seiyu's Life! (Sore ga Seiyuu!)
What's it about ?
Adaptation of a semi-autobiographical 4-panel gag manga about voice-acting. (The writer, Masumi Asano, has been in the business for more than a decade and is currently voicing Cure Mermaid in the latest Precure series.) And wait, it was illustrated by Hayate the Combat Butler's author ?
Futaba, our heroine, is a newbie voice-actress who gets a minor role as a mascot character in a mecha show. And of course she makes minor blunders one after the other, as this is a gag show. She got into this career because, well, the economy's tough and jobs are hard to get anyway, so why not go for the dream job ?
Rin, a junior high school student, isn't lost in the building. She's actually three years their senior, and indeed quite good at it ; it's impressive how she doesn't mess up any of the technobabble her bridge bunny character spouts out.
Masako Nozawa is guest-starring as herself, i.e. the respected and admired veteran who turns out to be kind to the newbies despite how intimidated they are. They still expect her to break out a Kamehameha during recording sessions, though.
Wait, studio Gonzo are still alive ? That would explain why they got a series where they can get away with leaving all the action shots unfinished.
Exactly what I expected : a pleasant and modestly entertaining, if a bit slight, look how voice-acting actually works in practice. It's full of little details that are clearly drawn from experience.
Sure, it's nowhere as good as SHIROBAKO, but that would be a high bar to clear. But hey, it's entertaining and instructive enough about the behind-the-scenes of the industry that I'm sure to keep watching.
What's it about ?
Adaptation of a light novel series with the novel premise of "player stuck into a MMORPG that became real". Never seen that one before.
From what I can gather, it has nothing to do with the various videogames of the same name.
So, Yggdrasil. One of the big full-immersion MMORPG of its time. But it's been 12 years, the player base had been dwindling down considerably for a while, so its editor has decided to call it a day and shut the servers down tonight.
Momonga, our protagonist, was the leader of one the biggest and strongest "monster" guilds of the game. Max level, tons of stuff and unique items (including his super-wand that can wish nearly anything and even bypass some programming), their own giant demon castle lair, dozens of custom NPC servants, the works. By now, of course, most of the guild members have left, with barely a few of them making an appearance on this last day. But Momonga has decided he's going to stick around until the end, reminisce, and let the system log him out when the servers shut down.
When he wakes up after midnight, he notices with shock that he's still in the throne room. The HUD and menus are gone, and he can't raise anyone (be them other players or GMs) through voice chats. On the other hand, the NPCs now act a lot more real than their previous AI-constrained selves, and obey to all his casually-phrased orders (instead of needing specific commands).
And well, there's Albedo, his NPC demon secretary, whom he had just rescripted to be in love with him, on a whim. This might have been a poor decision...
What's going on here ? Has he slided into another world that's identical to Yggdrasil somehow ? Can he get back to the real world ? Does he even want to ? Will the NPCs keep obeying their very confused master ?
Quite good ; there's some obvious CG work on some undead battle sequences, but it looks okay. And the animators have really managed to make Momonga expressive, with a body language belying clearly a benign middle manager disguised as an over-the-top overlord.
Well, there's a reason the cliché premises are still being recycled : they caught on our imagination and offer numerous variants. And hey, I don't think I've seen any of these stories take the point of view of "the bad guys" (who are actually punch-clock villains more than anything else), so that's something new for this show to explore. And it does so quite well ; Momonga truly feels like a MMORPG guild leader, and a very sympathetic protagonist. The NPC supporting cast also feel like they could grow into interesting characters (or at least entertaining ones).
If there's one thing that's lacking here, it's a clear notion of where the story is going ; we don't even know whether there's anyone outside the lair at this point. But hey, that's something for future episodes to explore ; this one has accomplished its job of selling me on the premise, at least for now.