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[In which I review] New anime, Winter 2012

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
It's cool and all that Jhiday writes these reviews for us, but they are his personal opinions, based on his own tastes, and may not be in accord with your own.
By all means, feel free to disagree with my reviews : I'm doing these as discussion starting points, and I'm curious about other opinions. ;)


The Knight in the Area (Area no Kishi)

What's it about ?

High-school soccer melodrama.

Characters

Kakeru, our protagonist. He used to be quite a good soccer player until he injured his left leg (the flashbacks are quick and vague), although since he's running around without trouble most of the damage must be in his head. He's switched to being the "manager" of his high-school soccer club (in the Japanese sense that he has no authority whatsoever and is a glorified go-fer). While he's enthusiastic about it, he's obviously in denial.

Suguru, his older brother, and the captain/star player of the club ; there's a pre-credits scene of him marking for Japan against Brazil in the under-15 Cup, just to hammer the point. To say that Kakeru has an inferiority complex over him is an understatement. Suguru is getting annoyed at Kakeru's denial and passive-aggressiveness, and frankly I'm with him. He pulls strings to get Kakeru back onto the team, which hopefully is going to get him out of his funk.

Nana ("Seven"), Kakeru's tomboyish childhood friend. Her family had moved to the US for the last few years, but now she's back. She claims to be making a move for the manager position, but I hope she gets to be on the team somehow, because she's got spunk and she's shown to have been quite good at it back in the day.

There's a mysterious person (disguised as a grey, of all things) who surprises Kakeru as he was playing soccer alone in a park at night, and plays around with him for a bit. Kakeru thinks this may be either Suguru or one of the few other named players we've seen so far, but I'm not fooled for a second : this is obviously Nana.

We see a few of the other members of the soccer clubs, but because Kakeru seems to prefer associating with the underdogs, that means they're the perpetual loser and the mandatory horny dude. Sigh.

Production Values

Quite low. It overuses still frames, and the animation's nothing to write home about. I don't really like the way how Suguru looks so much older than Kakeru despite them being stated to only be one year apart. Also, the score is laying the melodrama a bit thick.

Overall Impression

This is quite better than I expected at first. Kakeru is very annoying indeed, but I was pleasantly surprised that the series seems to agree that his attitude needs to change. I quite like the other characters (well, aside from the horndog), and I'm intrigued by the hints that Suguru may not survive the next couple of episodes.

I'm somewhat optimistic about this one, although I'm not sure how long I'll keep with it (especially as I'm not sure for how long it's going to run).
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
High School DxD

What's it about ?

Harem show featuring succubi in yet another of those high schools that recently went co-ed and have far more girls than boys.

Characters

Issei, our protagonist. He's part of a clique of three perverted guys who joined the school to get some. His catchphrase ? "I want to touch boobs !" Obviously most of the girls view them with disgust and stay well away. Just to make him even more repellent, he's voiced by Yuki Kaji, whose voice I've grown to hate over the last few seasons.

Yuuma, a girl who asks him out and proceeds to have the most cliché date possible with him. Everyone (including himself) wonders what she sees in that bozo. It turns out that she's actually a succubus, and she stabs him halfway through the episode because of some nonsense about how he's supposed to be important in some war between devil clans or something (she doesn't seem quite clear herself on why he would be important, but better safe than sorry). Unfortunately, he's then resurrected by...

Rias Gremory (sic), leader of another succubi clan dwelling at the school. Actually, she can only make Issei into a half-demon creature, with enhanced strength and senses at night... which really doesn't sound too bad for him, especially as he gets to hang with a bunch of hot girls.

Production Values

Fanservice out the wazoo : gratuitous panty shots, naked breasts in abundance, lucious transformation sequences that make the protagonist admire them instead of running away...

There seems to be quite a bit of budget behind this : the animation is quite good (although it mostly focuses on body parts).

Overall Impression

This is slightly better than I expected. It's got a good grasp of atmosphere, it's well-paced, and some of the jokes are actually funny. On the other hand, there's absolutely no way to save the plot, and I loathe the protagonist. I have no qualms with skipping this one.

But hey, points for trying a bit harder than most fanservice-y harem shows.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
The Swan Songs of the Valkyries (Senhime Zesshou Symphogear)
(13 episodes)

What's it about ?

In the future, Earth is randomly assaulted by swarms of "Noises", (basically : eldritch abominations). Our only effective means of defense are the Twei Wings, a pair of song-powered superheroines (supported by a whole secret agency) who have secret identities as idol singers.

Characters

Kanade, the red Twei Wing, who jumps into action without waiting for support when a swarm of Noise attacks one of their concerts. The big twist is that she sacrifices herself halfway through the episode to save some innocent bystanders by singing an actual swan song (i.e., the cost of its power is her own life).

Tsubasa, the blue Twei Wing, has obviously turned somewhat bitter as a way of coping with her partner's death. She's thrown herself into the job even more, in an emotionally detached way.

Out actual protagonist, at least for this episode, is Hibiki, a girl who was attending the concert and got caught into the attack ; Kanade was trying to save her, and she gets such an injury that it's a wonder she survived (the scar does look quite suspect). Kanade's sacrifice has obviously left a big impression on Hibiki, and when she later stumbles onto yet more Noises, she gathers all her strength and will to try and save a kid who happened to be there. When eventually surrounded by Noises, she even tries to sing her own swan song... except what it transforms her into looks rather more like a monster than a superheroine. Oops.

And just to make this more hopeless, the episode opens with a flashforward of Hibiki's best friend visiting her grave. Oh, dear.

Production Values

This looks quite impressive indeed : the future looks wonderful, the Noises are creepy as heck (they don't look too frightening until they actually attack, and urgh), the animation for the fights is crisp, and if you're going to feature battle songs prominently, you can't go wrong with Nana Mizuki (who's on top form here).

Overall Impression

Wow, this took me completely by surprise. This is a show that lulls you into a false sense of security with its bright colours and cheerful atmosphere... until the Noises attack and innocent bystanders go down like flies. I'm glad they didn't go for a darker palette, because the show is already brutal as it is.

It also helps that I have absolutely no clue where this is going, what with killing off one of the four main characters and promising to do the same to another one (and there's no OP or ED yet to give any hints). This could turn into Tsubasa begrudgingly mentoring Hibiki as a replacement for Kanade... but if there's something this first episode has proven, it's that anything can happen.

Me likey.
 

JELEINEN

Sizzler Black Squadron
Validated User
I gave up on High School DxD about four minutes in.

Symphogear is so far my only for sure show to keep watching.
 

ru

temporary avatar
RPGnet Member
Validated User
The Knight in the Area (Area no Kishi)
eh, sports anime is not my genre

High School DxD
I found this quite amusing, although my tolerance for fanservice is pretty high. The couple of short fight sequences looked interesting enough, and the animation quality is generally good.


The Swan Songs of the Valkyries (Senhime Zesshou Symphogear)
nice combat sequences. can't help but feel we've seen the similar monster concept a few too many times before though. was it my imagination or did the song sequences seem to be animated differently to the rest? seemed a bit CG-ish in places.

have to say, i'm not really keen on revealing that the MC dies right form the get-go.
 

Mejiro

I think I'm a Drow now
Validated User
nice combat sequences. can't help but feel we've seen the similar monster concept a few too many times before though. was it my imagination or did the song sequences seem to be animated differently to the rest? seemed a bit CG-ish in places.

have to say, i'm not really keen on revealing that the MC dies right form the get-go.
The dance number did look a bit different, yeah. It looks like they're playing with some of the concepts and tropes of slightly more down-to-earth magical girls, ala Mai Hime or Nanoha. Could be good, depending on where they go with it. Having her get power and turn into some kinda cyborg-beast thing rather than super-tech fighter with song powers like the Zwei Wing girls hopefully shows that theres more plot than 'girl becomes successor to red hair, having to earn trust of blue hair'.
 

Katsue

Young Witch
Validated User
have to say, i'm not really keen on revealing that the MC dies right form the get-go.
Well, she seems to be the main character, but it's early days. She hasn't died yet, but she might die within the next few episodes. Or maybe she doesn't die at all, and someone fakes her death for some reason.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Bodacious Space Pirates (Moretsu Uchuu Kaizoku)
(26 episodes)

What's it about ?

In the far future, after mankind spread into outer space, there was a big war between the central power and the most far-flung colonies. The separatists were so out-matched they had to commission space pirates to undermine their enemy. It's now been about a hundred years since the war ended (and the show is pointedly not telling us how it ended, besides implying it was somewhat ludicrous), but some of those space pirates are still around somehow. Although given that their license is currently under review, this may be about to change...

Characters

Marika, the teenage daughter of the captain of the main pirate ship still around, although she didn't know that. Daddy died a couple of days ago, and the law says the ship goes to his next of kin, so suddenly the crew is stalking her and innocently asking her whether she'd like to visit outer space. Marika's nonplussed by the whole thing ("Wait, there are legal pirates ?"), but outer space does sound cool.

Ririka, Marika's mother, used to be part of the crew, but the implication being that she settled down after having her daughter. (But given that we later get a short look at her working in a military uniform, she's hardly the stay-at-home kind.) She enjoys seeing the old crew again, and doesn't have any qualms about Marika leaving with them... provided that's what she wants, of course.

Kane McDougall, the navigator, somehow managed to become the replacement teacher for Marika's class. Half to keep an eye on her, and half to discretely scout new recruits for the crew. Refreshingly, he immediately tells the class he's married, and later notes he'd never had guessed dealing with high school girls could be so tiring, so that's at least one bullet dodged.

Chiaki, a conveniently new transfer student who immediately starts stalking Marika. She does save our protagonist from a kidnapping attempt by a fake law officer (as well as a roomful of MIBs who were suspiciously lounging in the maid café Marika works part time at), but there's still no hint of who she's working for. (She's voiced by Kana Hanazawa in "Everyone I'm talking to is an idiot" mode, which is always pleasant to listen to.)

There's a token normal friend of Marika running around, and she's prominently featured in the ED, but she's yet to do much.

Production Values

Quite nice indeed. There's something slightly retro to the character designs, which works well with the general atmosphere. Despite what you'd expect from the title, the fanservice level is quite mild (well, aside from that thing Kane's colleague was wearing in the café).

The OP & ED sound like someone liked the autotune effects a bit too much, but I don't have a problem with that.

Overall Impression

Perfectly pleasant, and with enough sense of fun for me to keep watching. I quite like that the show is immediately addressing the concept of "family-friendly pirates", and I'm intrigued at what reason there is for them to still exist.

I didn't want to place hopes to high on this, but so far it's fulfilling them.
 

KoboldLord

Registered User
Validated User
Space Pirates seems watchable so far, even though by the description I had totally written it off. I suppose it could wander off into either fanservice-land or boring-land, but for now it's earned a second episode at least.

Natsume Yuujinchou Death started off nicely. It actually has plot! Seasons 2 and 3 wasted their first episodes reintroducing everybody in the extended cast, but this season the first episode goes back to a plot thread that's been hanging for quite some time.
 
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