First, let’s get a couple of shorts out of the way…
My Little Sister talks like an Osakan Mom (Boku no Imouto wa “Oosaka Okan”) surprisingly isn’t incest-bait, unlike the immense majority of series with “Imouto” in the (long-winded) title. Instead, it’s terrible in a completely different way : it features horrible cheap Flash animation and revolves around a “wow, the Kansai dialect as spoken by this girl is weird and kinda nonsensical” joke that’s mostly impenetrable to Western ears and doesn’t sound that funny to start with. Apparently it’s adapted from a language guidebook, which really shows (with “helpful” translation recaps explaining the jokes slowly all the time).
Inferno Cop is a weird little short series coming from Studio Trigger, aka the people behind Gurren Lagann, Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt and Redline. Alas, despite the pedigree this is objectively mindless garbage, with no budget whatsoever. Obviously this is part of the joke, but it’s not that funny. (Even P&Sw/G at its most poop-joke-obsessed lows had more depth and looked way better than this crap.)
Anime shorts are hard to review. In some lucky cases, they’re so terrible it’s easy to dismiss them immediately (see above ; although Inferno Cop‘s second episode had such gonzo charm that I’m starting to reconsider it). But in some case, there’s so little content it’s hard to judge how they’ll end up going.
Case in point : Encouragement of Climb (Yama no Susume). It’s about a high school girl who used to love mountain climbing but has been traumatized by a bad fall ; one of her elementary school friends tries to take her back to her old hobby… and won’t take no for an answer. It’s actually quite a promising start : it’s got some decent animation (including a slightly jarring CG-background shot at the beginning that isn’t half-bad), the plot progresses at a good clip, and it’s got more than one joke. Nothing earth-shattering, but good enough to be worth watching.
I’m more wary about Mangirl. It’s a comedy about young women setting up a new manga magazine. The problem is that it’s not really funny ; the basic joke is that they’re terrible at it, but the show features random bursts of offscreen competence so that they can be in business for more than one episode. And if you’re interested in the behind-the-scenes of manga publishing, this looks much more superficial than, say, Bakuman (which is, you know, still airing).
Ai Mai Mi is yet another series of shorts adapting some comedy 4-panel manga. It’s notionally about a high school manga club, but really the three title characters spend most of their time or acting out terrible jokes. At least Mangirl had a plot ; this is just unfunny, horrible-looking crap. Avoid.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Nekomogatari (Black) somewhere, now that I’ve watched the whole of it (the four episodes aired just before the New Year, but took a bit to get translated).
For those who aren’t aware of it, this is a prequel to 2009’s Bakemonogatari, a very peculiar mix of harem romance, supernatural horror, self-indulgent dialogue and Akiyuki Shinbo being weird for the hell of it. That was a very good show indeed (if only for being a visual masterpiece), but it’s not for everybody. Nisemonogatari, its sequel last year, was basically more of the same, with even better technical quality but also even more self-indulgent.
The question with Nekomonogatari (Black), like any prequel, is whether there’s any point to watching it, considering how the events of “the Cat incident in Golden Week” have already amply been described in the main series in its “Tsubasa cat” arc. I’ve actually rewatched those four episodes to make sure, and yes indeed Nekomonogatari (Black) does cover a lot of (until now) relatively unexplored territory. It helps that this is a lean narrative (by -monogatari standards), making its point very efficiently at a pace that never feels idle. And the visuals are as striking as they’ve ever been.
This obviously whets my appetite for Kizumonogatari (the prequel people are actually looking for, describing “the Vampire incident on Spring Break” we’ve only very briefly flashbacked to until now), whenever that comes out ; and the “second season”, apparently slated for later this year.
Chihayafuru 2 was off to a good start, with the start of a new school year and the introduction of new club members feeling like a strong enough move forward to avoid repetition of what the first season did, and update the formula somewhat. (To say nothing of complicating the love dodecahedron a bit more.)
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Senyuu, a series of shorts parodying heroic-fantasy RPG games. Hilariously mean-spirited, and served by some impressive voice work from Yuuichi Nakamura. It’s got a shoe-string budget, but that doesn’t prevent it from being lots of fun.
I won’t bother with a full review for Straight Title Robot Anime (Chokkyuu Hyoudai Robot Anime). Notionally it’s supposed to be the first anime series fully animated with Vocaloid-type software, but that just makes it look cheap and generic. As for the story, it’s basically three “girl” androids failing to grasp the concept of humour for 12 minutes. I don’t just mean it’s tedious and unfunny (although it certainly is) : that’s really the plot. (They’re trying to recreate human humour long after humanity has vanished.)
I wouldn’t recommand watching this crap to anyone.