Spring 2014 capsules

So, first, a few worlds about Insufficient Direction (Kantoku Fuyuki Todoki), a series of Flash-based shorts adapting the autobiography of Hideaki Anno’s wife. If you think that sounds interesting, you’ll be disappointed by the final product. It’s the perfect example of a private joke taken too far. For one, there’s no actual explanation of the premise at any point in it ; I only discovered it later on when I did a bit of research to write this. For two, she’s inexplicably depicted as a toddler throughout. Since this first episode covers their marriage ceremony, that’s more than a bit disturbing. But the most damning flaw of this thing is that it doesn’t seem to have much more insight to offer than “otaku are weird and kinda creepy” ; the Director character could be just about anyone and it wouldn’t change a thing.

Don’t bother with it.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2014.


Mushishi is the same as it always was. Great mood piece, intriguing world-building, and nothing much for me to actually say about it. Well, except that this first episode is way less depressing than average.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure – Stardust Crusaders is a whole different kind of awesome. This is a textbook example of how to animate bigger-than-life characters. It seems to have gotten a budget upgrade too, which isn’t unwelcome. (Although really, part of the charm of the 2012 series is how they used colour and framing to compensate for the lack of animation.)

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2014 – Page 2.

Because I certainly don’t want to spend any more time than strictly necessary covering the sea of mediocrity we got this Monday.

Hero Bank, Dragon Collection and Oreca Battle are all kids’ shows bases on videogames (respectively for the 3DS, a social network, and arcades). All three of them feature an annoying redhead kid and his bland friends, fighting stuff with their collectible assets. (Hero Bank sets up some sort of permanent VR tournament, while the other two are the old “transported to another world” gimmick.)

Hero Bank is the least watchable of the three, partly because it’s a full 22-minute show, but mostly because everyone is just so annoying.

Dragon Collection has a slightly less annoying protagonist, and his initial sense of wonder at being transported to a fantasy world is decently done, but the only reason it doesn’t overstay its welcome is that it’s only 11-minute long.

Oreca Battle at least seems to have fun with its weird monster design. (Flying octopi that rain tomatoes onto kids ? WTF ?) This one actually suffers from being a bit rushed at 11-minute-long, completely losing me with a journey to a fantasy world that seems to come from nowhere. Especially as it’s way less interesting than the “monsters come alive out of this card game and run wild into our world” premise it’d been initially setting up.

So, yeah. Three show I’m thrice too old to watch, and I won’t be bothering with.

The Comic Artist and Assistants (Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to) is a different deal altogether. Again it’s a shorter format (11-minute-long), but the similarities end there. It adapts a comedy 4-panel manga, and manages to fit four sketches in its first episode. As the title lays out, it follows the hijinks of a quirky manga author, his assistant, and his editor. (More characters presumably coming, according to the OP & ED ; aside from the manga author, they’re all female.)

The problem here is that this show’s only joke is that the manga author is a pervert who sexually harasses his colleagues. And then makes puppy eyes for them to forgive him. It’s endless variations about the same theme : he wants some reference of breasts being groped, he launches a debate about how much panties should be revealed, and he buys tons of female underwear, again for “reference”. (You can guess what kind of manga he draws.)

Yeah, no thanks. The joke is already tired by the episode’s end, I can’t bear anymore of it.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2014 – Page 5.

It’s almost painful to watch the slow demise of studio Gainax. With most of their key staff having gone off to the greener pastures of Khara and Trigger, it’s now reduced to a shadow of its own glory, taking any bizarre project that might get them some direly-needed sponsorship money. Remember when they did a short magical girl show that was a glorified (and impenetrable) ad for Subaru ?

Well, Magica Wars (Mahou Shoujo Taisen) is a similar project : a series of 26 shorts starring magical girls who represent the various prefectures of Japan. Not that the premise is obvious from the first episode, which showcases the not-very-funny slapstick hijinks of an incompetent magical girl chasing small blobs.

It doesn’t even have any kind of novelty value ; it’s just boring and pointless.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2014 – Page 6.

I’m not making a full review for Marvel Disk Wars : the Avengers, but I do want to note that it’s much better than I expected. Especially since it involves a bunch of kids using the titular disks to summon Avengers and fight bad guys. The chief reason the show manages to make that premise less terrible is to spend the first episode without it, instead devoting it to pure set-up. And it does a good job of selling this as a recognizable version of the Marvel Universe, with the Avengers behaving like they should throughout. The Disks are Stark Technology Gone Wrong ™, baddies try to steal them, the Avengers presumably get stuck in them next episode. And the kids are given plausible explanations for being around, which is a relief.

Let’s put it this way : I’m open to watching a second episode, which is more than I can say for just about any of the other marketing-driven kids’ shows this season.

Also, a few words about Inugami & Nekoyama, an adaptation of a 4-panel gag manga about a dog-like girl who likes cats, and a cat-like girl who likes dogs. That’s basically the whole joke, so it’s a good thing that it’s a series of 3-minute shorts. Sure, that’s a bit of a “stop-start” paced format, but the episode packs just enough content, and I’m not sure the source material could support a full-length adaptation anyway. As it stands, it’s perfectly pleasant to watch.

No full review for Escha & Logy’s Atelier either ; I fell asleep watching it and have no wish to try it again. It’s very boring indeed, with flat characters and a complete lack of any kind of narrative tension. You’d think a JRPG adaptation would have more punch, but no.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2014 – Page 7.

Is the Order a Rabbit? (Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?)

(12ish episodes ?)

What’s it about ?

A full-length adaptation of a 4-panel workplace-sitcom manga.


Cocoa, our bubbly point-of-view character. She’s come to [whichever European-like city this is set in] to study, and gets to stay at the “Rabbit House” provided she pays her stay by working there. It’s a coffee house, with dozens of blends on the menu.

Chino, the deadpan head waitress, and the owner’s daughter. There’s a white bundle of fur, allegedly a rabbit, resting on her hair. (“Please do not touch it.”) Hence the title, as she mistakes Cocoa’s confusion for a client’s order.

Rize, the other waitress on duty that day, had a totally good reason for hiding half naked in a closet. And drawing out a gun at the slightest provocation. Sure she does.

Chino’s dad handles the evening shift, where the place becomes a bar. And apparently Grampa’s the rabbit-thing, but that’s a secret.

Production Values

Scenery porn ! And coffee porn, obviously. Very little actual fanservice, thankfully.

Overall Impression

Fluffy, pleasant, inoffensive, and immediately forgettable. It’s a nice and comfortable way to pass 22 minutes, but nothing to go out of your way for.

Still, it’s perfectly okay, and I may give it a couple more episodes.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2014 – Page 7.

Sakura Trick

(12ish episodes)

What’s it about ?

High-school romantic comedy about lesbians. (Adapted from a 4-panel gag manga.)


Haruka, our main point-of-view character. She would be the straight man in half the jokes if she wasn’t a lesbian girl. A bit airheaded and clumsy.

Yuu, her longtime girlfriend. They were already friends each other in middle school, and are now pushing it to the next level. More brash and fiery-tempered.

There are quite many other lesbian girls in their class… oh, fuck it, this is so boring I fell asleep and can’t remember anything about them.

Production Values

Studio Deen recruited a SHAFT alumnus to direct this, and it shows ; he’s trying his darnedest to spruce up those talking heads with every visual trick in his bag : unusual shots, some good use of colour, and of course many close shots of young girls’ thighs.

Overall Impression

How can this show be so DULL ? Admittedly I often run hot and cold on 4-panel gag manga adaptations, but the jokes here just aren’t very funny, and the characters are instantly forgettable. It feels like the show’s only selling point is “Lesbians!”, and that just won’t cut it.

Don’t bother with this one.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2014 – Page 5.

Engaged to the Unidentified (Mikakunin de Shinkoukei)

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of a 4-panel gag manga about teenage arranged marriage.


Kobeni, our protagonist, is a normal high school girl. Who’s just learned she’s been forcibly engaged to some far-related cousin from the boonies. And he’s coming to live with her family right now. Obviously, she’s not too happy about this, despite her generally easy-going nature.

Hakuya, said fiancĂ©, does seem like a decent dude. He’s got no presence whatsoever, though.

Mashiro, his younger sister, is the big problem. For one, she’s also coming to live in. But mostly, she’s just very, very annoying in her worship of her brother and her jealousy against Kobeni.

Benio, Kobeni’s older sister, is the idol of her high school… but a lecherous, borderline-lolicon at home. Maybe she’s just joking, but Mashiro certainly hates her attentions.

Production Values

Perfectly okay for this kind of thing. There are heavy white highlights that give a somewhat pastel look to the characters (if that makes any sense), which looks okay enough.

Overall Impression

Well, this could be a lot more cringe-worthy, what with the forced-marriage and lolicon elements of the premise. As it is, it feels oddly charming.

On the other hand, it’s not that funny, and I have better comedies to watch. So I’m not going to bother with it.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2014 – Page 5.

Fall 2013 capsules

Miss Monochrome has a bizarre genesis. This is a virtual idol character, a bit like Hatsune Miku… except she’s voiced by proper idol/VA Yui Horie (with some mighty autotune, if the end song is any indication). Anyway, this is a series of 4-minute shorts starring the character, trying to become an idol.
The good news is that, after a bit of a dull start, it manages to place some good deadpan jokes. It’s genuinely funny, which is more than I expected of such a gimmick show.

On the other hand, I can’t make head nor tails out of Super Seishyun Brothers, another series of 4-minute shorts starring (unlike the title suggests) two brother-sister pairs. It actually started airing a couple of weeks ago, but I was (unsuccessfully) waiting for a second episode to get translated to get a better feel of it.
So far, it’s a gag show that barely raises a smile at all. It utterly failed to make it clear whether there’s any premise beyond “here are four character with outlandish (but generic) personalities.” I’m giving it a second episode just in case, but it looks completely skippable.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2013 – Page 4.

Hey, there are still more new shows getting released !

Admittedly, that means the like of Gaist Crusher : a kids’ sentai show adapted from some collectible card game. It’s the blandest and most generic piece of crap I have watched for a long time, which is saying something. From off-the-shelf one-dimensional characters to nearly absent world-building (what are the heroes even fighting ?) to character designs that would have been rejected by any self-respecting Saint Seiya clone… There’s absolutely nothing to recommend in this, and no way I’m bothering with a full review for it.

(That I watched this with terrible subtitles that seem to have gone through several languages before reaching English probably didn’t help. But even a decent translation can’t save this show.)

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2013 – Page 14.

Non Non Biyori

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Slice-of-life series about girls living in the countryside.


Hotaru, the newcomer from Tokyo. She’s a bit overwhelmed by all the country things she’s not used to : the decrepit school with only 5 students (all in different levels) ; the buses that come every two hours ; the dearth of stores ; the animals…

Renge, the young first-grader, still a bit naive and random. Loves playing the flute. The heart of the group.

Natsumi & Komari, the two sisters. The former is wilder, the latter more serious (and shorter, despite being the oldest of the group).

There’s some guy in their class, but he barely has any dialogue, and they mostly acts as though he didn’t exist. Poor guy.
(Also, their teacher is lazy.)

Production Values

Scenery porn ! Perfectly pleasant to watch.

Overall Impression

Are you healing yet ?

This is a very slow-paced series that’s all about feeling nice and agreeable. Some jokes here and there betray its 4-panel gag manga origins, but the main focus is on how nice the countryside is… or not, as some of the drawbacks are played for laughs.

Let’s see whether I don’t grow bored of it by the second episode.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2013 – Page 11.

Yellow Mosaic (Kiniro Mosaic)

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of a 4-panel gag manga about an English girl transfering to Japan. (Except the first 15 minutes in this episode are a flashback that explains why she’d do that.)


Shinobu, our initial point-of-view character. A few years ago, she spent a week of vacation in England at some friends of her parents’ country house. (Good thing they were fluent in Japanese, because she can’t speak English to save her life.) By all appearances, everyone had a great time.

Alice, the daughter of said family, was very shy and reluctant to approach Shinobu at first, but by the end of the week they were BFF. And this was such an important encounter for her that a few years later, she transfered to Shinobu’s high school after learning the language. And she’s staying at her home, too.

There are a couple of Shinobu’s school friends (the nice one and the sarcastic one, respectively, in contrast with Shinobu’s ditzy ways) that look like they’re going to be part of the main cast. The OP sequence (shown near the end here) also makes it look like Alice’s best friend in England is also going to be prominently featured, which is a bit problematic, as it’d kinda dilute the uniqueness of this blonde foreigner in Japan (which is what the series takes its name from, after all).

Production Values

Gorgeous backgrounds, although the CG landscape during the train ride is a bit of a misfire. Still, this is quite nice to look at.

I’m really not sure about the score, which makes damn sure to underscore that Shinobu’s original trip was an Epic Adventure and plays up the sense of wonder up to eleven. It works, but it’s a bit heavy-handed when the events are so mundane.

Overall Impression

Il was all ready to dismiss this one quickly, but you know what ? This is actually quite pleasant to watch. We’re all used to foreigners randomly attending anime schools (often rationalized as half-Japanese or whatever), but this commits all the way into re-establishing the novelty factor of it and having fun with the cultural differences. Having all the English characters talking English (with subtitles) when they should helps quite a lot, too (although the voice actors seem to struggle more than a bit with the accent.) I’m less thrilled with how quaint England looks, but it’s not too distracting.

I also quite like the relationship between Alice & Shinobu, especially how once in a while Shinobu will absent-mindedly do something ditzy that’s very scary for Alice. Comedy gold, there.

It’s more than a bit rough around the edges, and I’m not sure the joke can sustain 12 episodes. But I’m willing to give it a bit of rope, which I didn’t expect coming in.

via [In which I review] New anime, Summer 2013 – Page 5.

Love Lab (Renai Lab)

(13 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Comedy about students at an all-girls middle school practicing romance.


Riko, aka “The Wild One”, because she does delinquent-ish things like hiking her skirt up and tying her hair up. (This is the kind of elite middle school that frowns down on such trivial matters). Also, she’s athletic and more than a bit of a tomboy, which has netted her many female admirers. To tell the truth, she’s a bit bored, until she stumbles upon…

Maki, aka “The Princess”, the student council president. To everyone else, she’s perfect : diligent at her work, good grades, pretty. In reality, though, she’s a complete goofball that Riko finds practicing kissing on a bodypillow. Maki is absolutely obsessed with preparing herself for romance, and forcefully enlists Riko as a coach, because surely she must have tons of experience ? (Riko has too much pride to admit her love life has been pretty crap so far.)

There were originally three other members to the student council, but…
– The actual president (Maki was only vice-president originally) got annoyed by Maki doing all the work and leaving nothing for her to do ;
– The treasurer got thrown out for acting way too creepily while counting the money ;
– And the secretary still comes in occasionally, but she’s got so little presence you’d barely notice she was there.

Production Values

Perfectly okay for this kind of thing.

Overall Impression

I’m shocked : I was in stitches for the whole episode once we got to the reveal about Maki. This is very funny stuff, mostly because Maki never stops being hilarious. This combination of earnestness and cluelessness works perfectly, especially as she’s still able to be menacing to Riko when she feels the need to. Riko herself has some good jokes, too ; the flashbacks to her failed love life have perfect comedic pacing.

This is why I’m glad I’m doing those season reviews and watching the first episode of everything : once in a while, one of these shows that were completely under my radar and would never have tried out otherwise (how can you make a title more unpromising than “Love Lab” ?) turns out to be a very pleasant surprise.

via [In which I review] New anime, Summer 2013 – Page 4.

Chronicles of the Going-Home Club (Kitakubu Katsudou Kiroku)

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

The “Going-Home Club” is an euphemism for the students who don’t join any club and just go home after class. (In the Japanese school system, there’s a lot of pressure to join a club, any club for social purposes ; the students who don’t are usually a minority.) Here, the joke is that there’s an actual official Going-Home Club, with clubroom and everything.

Adapted from a 4-panel gag manga, obviously.


Natsuki, our point-of-view character ; as a high school freshman, she joins the Going-Home Club on a Wacky Misunderstanding and spends the whole episode (and probably the whole series) complaining on how this club makes no sense.

Karin, the other new recruit of the club. The naive one, who pushed Natsuki into joining despite having herself no clue what the club’s about.

Before that, the club had three members : the very enthusiastic president Sakura, and two high-class girls whose social standing demands that they belong to a club but presumably didn’t want the hassle of join a real club.

Production Values

Not much good. There are some decent backgrounds, but the animation is very limited and the character designs leave something to be desired.

Overall Impression

Not very good. It’s got some decent jokes (I loved the “premature cliffhangers” where the ED music starts playing despite the show not being over), but they get fewer and farther between as the episode goes, and the premise is already wearing thin by the end of it. I just can’t see the joke supporting a full series.

Just not funny enough for me to bother with.

via [In which I review] New anime, Summer 2013 – Page 2.

Spring 2013 capsules

It’s Tuesday, and for some reason this means we get a deluge of shorts. (Okay, the first one actually airs on Sundays, but it took a bit to get fansubbed).

Bloodtype-kun (Kitsuekigata-kun) is built around the stereotyped personalities that are associated with the various bloodtypes. I might get more out of it if I actually was familiar with them, but it’s actually somewhat fun even for the uninitiated, in part thanks to a very strong cast who could make the phonebook entertaining. (Jun Fukuyama, Akira Ishida AND Yuuichi Nakamura ? For THIS ?)

AIURA illustrates the perils of doing a very relaxed, well-animated slice-of-life show taking a lot of time to enjoy the little things of life… because in three minutes, it doesn’t even get close to any kind of point. The characters are reasonably fun to follow, but this is completely the wrong format for this. It’s just intensely frustrating.

Sparrow Hotel is the complete opposite, packing tons of jokes in its short running time… except barely any of them are actually funny. And this looks like complete crap, with a horrible character design for its lead character, and barely deserved to be called “animated” at all.

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2013 – Page 11.

I’m not going to bother doing a full review for Yuyushiki, a 4-panel gag manga adaptation following three high-school girls whose name start with “Yu…” (yes, that’s the entire premise). It’s very vaguely funny if you squint, the animation budget is more than spartan, and it’s so generic and unremarkable on every level that I just can’t muster the will to write any more about it.

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2013 – Page 12.