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[In which I review] New anime, Winter 2014

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Noragami
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

Urban fantasy action-comedy, adapted from a manga series.

Characters

Yato, our protagonist, is a god. Admittedly, not one of the big leagues : he's a vagrant god with no dedicated shrine and barely any followers. But he's ambitious, so he's eager to answer the prayers of the rare people calling to him to try and build his fanbase. His "missions" include anything from purging the nefarious ghosts haunting various place, to finding a lost cat.

Tomone, his partner, is a magical blade who's very efficient at dispatching ghosts. Unfortunately, she's about had it with her master's hobo lifestyle, and leaves him without even a month's notice. How rude.

Hiyori used to be an ordinary high school girl before crossing Yato's path... no, wait, scratch that, she was already a bit weird even before that. Still, her life completely changes when she's hit by a truck while trying to push Yato out of the way (not that he even needed the help), and she's now half-dead. Basically, her soul randomly leaves her body from time to time. Obviously she doesn't enjoy the situation, but it's not like Hato has any clue whether she can even be made "normal" again. Still, if she makes the token 5-yen offering, he'll be happy to look into it...

Production Values

Pretty good, as you'd expect from Studio Bones. The ghosts are creepy as heck, and the action sequences are well-directed.

Overall Impression

This was perfectly okay. It's got a decent premise, with some fun world-building, and some very good comedic timing. A lot depends on how much you can bear with Yato, who's a bit of a cocky brat ; but Hiyori is a good foil for him, and they play well together.

I'm probably going to give it a couple more episodes to see where it goes ; but I'm not sure I'll stick with it, as this is a busy season for me... Oh, wait, Taku Iwasaki is doing the score. Well, that settles it : I'm in.

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Space Dandy
(26 episodes)

What's it about ?

Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo) makes his grand directing return (let's all politely ignore Kids on the Slope) with a comedy S-F series he's described as "26 episodes of Mushroom Samba".

This isn't false advertising.

Characters

Space Dandy, our protagonist, makes a living exploring the universe to catalogue exotic alien species. (From what I understand, he's a freelancer working for some governmental office.) If these travels coincidentally happen to make him visit every single space restaurant of the aptly-name "Boobies" franchise, well that can't be helped, can it ? If you haven't twigged by now, he's a lecherous lout, and not exactly the sharpest bulb in the mixed metaphor ; but he's got the charisma to kinda get away with it. Well, just barely.

QT is his long-suffering robot assistant. The poor thing is so obsolete it has to read books to keep up to date. Still, by default it has the highest IQ in the spaceship, and so it's stuck being the straight man robot to Space Dandy. And complaining about the crappy unhelpful narration.

"Meow" (real name unpronounceable) is a cat-alien that Space Dandy initially mistakes as a rare species. He's not ; he's a completely ordinary Betelgeusean. But he vaguely remembers a place with exotic aliens, so our heroes take him for a ride. After a trippy journey that involved accidentally unravelling the fabric of spacetime, it turns out that this is a very dangerous place indeed.

Dr Gel is an agent of the Gogol Empire (*snicker*) who's tracking our hero because he's the Key to the Universe or somesuch nonsense. Now, I hope he survives being summarily executed by his boss for losing track of his target (during the spacetime havoc previously mentioned), as the design for his ship is so amazing (the Statue of Liberty's head in bondage !) that I want to see more of it.

Production Values

Very impressive indeed ; it's bursting at the seams with creativity and style, and the wild action sequences have to be seen to be believed.

It helps that Yoko Kanno turns out one of her best scores in ages.

Overall Impression

Warning : this is a very dumb show that starts with Space Dandy monologuing about how butts are better than boobies. It sets the mood : every character in this is a moron, and haphazardly bumbles from mishap to disaster. You've been forewarned ; the stupid is deep in this one.

This being said, it's every bit as good as you'd expect from its pedigree : there's nothing wrong with plain dumb fun, and Watanabe is a master of the form who knows how to produce a damn entertaining show. He somehow manages the tour de force of making Space Dandy somewhat bearable as a character, despite all the boneheaded actions he does during the course of this episode. (QT and even Meow savagely mocking him helps.)

Everything it's been hyped up to be, and then some. Definitely one of the best shows of the season already.

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Nobunaga the Fool
(13 episodes)

What's it about ?

Arghlsidfssqe.

Wait, let me try this again. This is a bizarre multimedia project ; the other media being stage plays. (With animated sequences.)
The setting involves two twin planets ; the "East world" is vaguely modelled on the Warring Kingdoms, while the "West world" features random European historical figures from centuries apart.

Also, mecha. And tarot.

Characters

Nobunaga "the Fool" is obviously our protagonist. He's the cocky teenage son of the Oda family who has adventures with his sidekicks Mitsuhide and Hideyoshi. He's supposedly a cunning strategist, but so far his only display of that is "tell everyone to run like hell from the bigass army that's vastly superior", so yeah. Not that he's taken seriously, given his reputation for mischief. Thus plenty of people die, and he vows to "change the world".

Jeanne Kaguya d'Arc (/facepalm) is a teenage girl from the West world whose propensity to hear voices has labelled her a witch. The mysterious dreams she's been having of being burned at the stake (in "Paris", /double-facepalm) aren't helping. Since those dreams also prominently feature Nobunaga, she vows to head for the East world.

Leonardo da Vinci agrees. Wait, were you stalking her to appear just right at this moment ? And what's with the megaphone ? Anyway, he works for King Arthur, and together they board Magellan's spaceship. From which they drop onto the East world, with a mecha in tow. And they crash-land right next to Nobunaga, who immediately hijacks the mecha to fight the incoming enemy armies.

Production Values

Perfectly alright. The character designs have the same clean genericness as most other Satelight productions, but they're the least of the show's problem.

Overall Impression

Where do I even start with this ? It's pointless to deride the laughably inept use of historical figures, although they sure are distracting. I presume it's supposed to be a fun romp, but the result is just a terrible mess that fails to bring its disparate elements into a coherent whole. It just feels completely creatively bankrupt, and desperate in its attempt to coopt everything into itself. That none of the characters are interesting (aside from maybe da Vinci, who's just weird) doesn't help.

No way I'm watching one more episode of this.

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My Neighbour Seki (Tonari no Seki-kun)
(12ish half-length episodes ?)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a gag manga.

Characters

Seki is a high-school boy who does anything but pay attention in class ; this episode, he builds an impressive chain of dominoes with dozens of erasers, and other various stationery.

Yokoi, our point-of-view character, sits right next to him ; she's both bemused and fascinated by her neighbour's antics. And of course it's always her who gets chastised for not paying attention.

Production Values

Not very good, but it's well-directed enough to sell the jokes.

Overall Impression

From what I understand, the manga features endless variations of the same basic joke. But it's a good joke, and 8 minutes is the right duration to give each iteration the room to breathe, without outliving its welcome.

It made me laugh, and I'm up for more of the same.
 
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Unseenlibrarian

Definitely NOT a Monkey.
Validated User
The end credits for for Seki-Kun are great just for him rocking out at his desk, and have already produced the "Yokoi in a nutshell" gif.

 

Quasar

Feeling kinda smurfy
Validated User
I adored Seki-Kun. the first short that I've really loved I think. Though its pretty unfair I guess to judge it just on one episode. Of course I imagine my HanaKana love will see me though.
 

ru

temporary avatar
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Space Dandy
It was good, but I was somehow expecting more outright craziness. I'll have to see how I feel about the second episode after recalibrating my expectations.

Out of curiosity I also watched the dub - I think some of the jokes are actually funnier. Don't know if the subbers were half-assing the original. It does lack the ending song to Hugh Everett though.


My Neighbour Seki (Tonari no Seki-kun)
It was amusing for what it was, but if it just repeats the same formula over and over it's probably not going to hold my interest.
 

Dawgstar

Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
It was good, but I was somehow expecting more outright craziness. I'll have to see how I feel about the second episode after recalibrating my expectations.
It's funny to note some folks' tolerance for craziness. I've seen some complain how insane and awful it was. Personally, I like Kill la Kill, so I don't think my meter accurately reads such things anymore. I'm not sure where Dandy is going, or if it's even going somewhere, but for now I'm interested enough to be along for the ride.
 

Catharsis Cat

Live Action Anime Girl
Validated User
Space Dandy kind of lost me halfway through. The first half was interesting, but once they got into actual alien hunting I got bored.

I also didn't find it out there of trippy at all. Maybe I have just been spoiled by SHAFT however.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Nobunagun
(13 episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of an action manga series that defies any kind of one-line summary.

Characters

Shio, our protagonist, is a quirky high-school girl with hints of chuunibyou. At the very least, she's a military nerd, and has no friends whatsoever. Also, she gets weird dreams where she's Oda Nobunaga (as a middle-aged dude with a mustache), which she's completely nonplussed about.

Kaoru is the one girl in her class that makes repeated attempts at befriending the weird loner during the class trip to Taiwan. (Why do I get the nagging feeling there's more to her than can be taken at face value ?)

A giant monster invader from space, who suddenly interrupts all this riveting high school drama by landing close by and killing tons of people.

"Jack the Ripper", or at least one of his distant descendants who's part of Earth's first response team, and somehow can channel the bloodline of his ancestor to summon a super-weapon. Unfortunately, he's underestimated the Invader (what do you mean there were hundreds of smaller ones inside ?), and his backup are still on their way. Oops.

Fortunately, it turns out that Shio is a descendant of Nobunaga, and can use Jack's macguffin to summon her own weapon : the Nobuna-Gun. Witness her glee as she coins that so-terrible-it's-awesome pun ! She's going to enjoy this.

Production Values

Very fun to look at ; the first half has scores of random annotations that quickly set the scene and are funny on their own right, and the second half makes some great use of colour to enhance the atmosphere and underline the action.

Overall Impression

Well, this is definitely a series that knows how to build up its rampant insanity. It knows what it's doing, and how to make it as impactful as possible.

... On the other hand, I have a hard time caring ; I can't connect with anyone but Shio, and even then that's not enough for me to stick with the series. I'm sorry, it's not you, it's me.

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The Pilot's Love Song (Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta)
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a very successful light novel series. Before you start running away, I should mention it's the "ambitious steampunk" type of light novels, not the generic incest/harem/etc. ones that have plagued recent years.

Characters

Kal-el, our teenage male lead. (Who the heck though this was an appropriate name for a character in a pseudo-European steampunk setting ?) He's a new recruit for an airship piloting school that is set on a flying island. I can't quite get a bead on him, personality-wise : most of the time he's your generic protagonist, but at times he'll have fits of unexplained anger, or impenetrable flashbacks involving some sort of priestress.

Ariel, his "sister". (I get the nagging feeling he's been adopted, and some spoilers I've encountered pretty much confirm it.) They have typical siblings relationships : often quarrelling over insignificant nonsense, but still there for each other. They've actually got two other sisters, but Ariel is the one who also enlisted and is the copilot for his plane.

There's some mysterious new student whose main distinguishing feature is that he scowls angrily at people. (I don't think he even utters a single word this episode.) Everyone else wonders what's the deal with this angry loner bozo.

Claire, a cute shy girl Kal-el meets in the countryside. Ten minutes later, they're already touching intimately. Well, that was quick. They reluctantly part ways late in the evening : she lives in the "noble" section of the island, which he can't access because he's a commoner.

The narration is all doom and gloom. This can't bode well.

Production Values

Scenery porn !

Overall Impression

Hmm. There's nothing particularly wrong with this : it does some good (if not particularly innovative) world-building, establishes the characters quite well, looks quite good overall...

But the core problem here is Kal-el : it's obvious there's some sort of twist about him incoming soon, but in the meantime the character is left in an awkward place where he keeps shifting personalities randomly. And let's be blunt : his default "nice ordinary guy" personality is quite boring indeed. (Not that the "angry" one is any better, especially given the lack of context for his outbursts.) Which removes a lot of charm his romance with Claire might have.

Frankly, I just don't have the patience to wait for the twist ; the story is just too bland so far. I won't be bothering with this one.

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Super Sonico The Animation
(12ish episodes ?)

What's it about ?

A whole anime series about Nitroplus's mascot virtual character, because YOU demanded it !

(I certainly didn't.)

Characters

Super Sonico is our focus character, so this is all about her. Sonico being late in the morning ! Sonico being nice to kids ! Sonico at college, where she's brilliant but as terrible attendance ! Sonico at her job as a gravure idol, where pervert clients try to take advantage of her ! Sonico helping out at her Grandma's restaurant ! Sonico with her underground band !

It's hard for any side characters to make an impression when the camera remains laser-targeted at the main character, so the one who does steal the show is her manager at the idol company, mostly because he wears a scary mask for no fathomable reason.

Production Values

You might expect this to feature the 3DCG animation that's all the rage these days (and was a feature of past Super Sonico clips), but only the ED sequence is like that ; the rest of the series is traditional animation. With quite a bit of fanservice, obviously.

Overall Impression

This is the epitome of vacuity. There's no escaping it : Super Sonico is a very boring character who leads a very boring life. She's generically cute, and that's it. A full episode was already tedious ; I just can't fathom how anyone could withstand a full series of it.
 

Quasar

Feeling kinda smurfy
Validated User
Super Sonico The Animation
(12ish episodes ?)

What's it about ?

A whole anime series about Nitroplus's mascot virtual character, because YOU demanded it !

(I certainly didn't.)
Oh. So thats the company. I knew she was a mascot for a company, I assumed some kind of music company. Weird to see that turned into a anime.

And wow. That's epic tier blandness. Amazed how bland it was.
 
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q_3

Ge.
Validated User
Kal-el, our teenage male lead. (Who the heck though this was an appropriate name for a character in a pseudo-European steampunk setting ?)
I'm guessing the twist is he's actually from the planet Krypton?
 
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