Summer 2011 capsules

Two quick reviews, because those 3/4-minute shorts don’t warrant a full writeup :

Morita-san wa Mukuchi (“Morita is taciturn”)

This revolves around Morita, a high school girl who barely ever talks (although she’s got some interior monologue, which kills the effect a bit). And that’s it, that’s the entire joke. It was already outstaying its welcome at 3 minutes long, I can’t imagine watching anymore of this.

Nyanpire

Speaking of one-shot jokes that can’t be sustainable, even in 4-minute shorts : this stars a cat that’s been bitten by a vampire (as a way to save its life). This is even less entertaining than the previous series : it tries way too hard to hit the “cute cat doing cute things cutely” button, and fails spectacularly at being even a single bit endearing. It’s way too artificial to work, and the high concept wasn’t even promising to begin with.

via [In which I review] New anime, Summer 2011 – Page 4.

I usually don’t say much about OVA or sequels, but I figured I’d say a few words about Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kira, the first episode of which was recently released.

Now, the thing with Higurashi is that, while it’s a very good story, the plot got conclusively resolved at the end of the second season, in a way that leaves no room whatsoever for straight sequels. The first OVA series, Rei, got around it by featuring an interesting story hook that brings a new light over the wider picture, trying to tie it a bit more to the overall When they Cry franchise (probably as an tie-in to the then-debuting Umineko anime)… but in a way that’s self-canceling, and again leaves no room for further elaboration. Also, Rei was padded up with a couple of random comedy episodes that were kinda cute but didn’t bring anything new to table.

Well, the first episode of Kira makes it look like it’s going for the “random comedy” episodes route, except with even more fanservice. The first half of the episode is literally the male cast (Keiichi, Ooishi, Tomitake & Irie) fantasizing about “punishments” they could inflict to the whole female cast as part of the “penalty games”. Not only doesn’t it do much for me, but it gets quite uncomfortable when it reaches the younger members of the cast (Rika rubbing the windows with her ass ? Really ?). The second half is slightly more fun, not really because the female cast gets to retaliate (that’s nearly as tedious as the opposite), but because it actually makes an effort to tie the whole thing into the wider plot (however ridiculous that may sound). It doesn’t quite succeed in canceling out the bad taste left by the first half, but at least I don’t feel like I completely wasted my time.

Is this worth watching ? Well, no. It doesn’t look like Kira is going to add anything to the plot ; it feels like a cash-grab exercise, or at best an opportunity for the creators to have fun with the most lighthearted aspects of the premise. (The preview for the second episode certainly looks like it’s going to be entertainingly bonkers.) You can’t really put a clearer sign for “out-of-continuity zaniness” than featuring the Soul Brothers in a major role. I’m a die-hard fanatic of the franchise, so I’ll probably keep watching this, however pointless it is, just out of affection for the characters ; but you probably shouldn’t bother.

via [In which I review] New anime, Summer 2011 – Page 11.

Spring 2011 capsules

I won’t bother profiling Suzy’s Zoo Daisuki! Witzy in detail. It’s a 2-minute-long preschooler’s cartoon where animals and teddy bears act cutely for the little children. Even the all-star voice cast (Mai Nakahara as the duck main character ! Maaya Sakomoto as the narrator !) can’t make me care.

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2011 – Page 4.

I watched the first episode of Maria‚ĆHolic Alive. To my complete lack of surprise, it has exactly the same problems as the first season : (1) Kanako is very, very annoying ; (2) Mariya is barely a dick at all, despite it being a key part of the purpoted premise ; and (3) it’s just not very funny.

Now, this show is proof that SHAFT can animate the crap out of any old shit and make it visually interesting, but it clearly falls short of being actually any good. A well-polished turd is still a turd. I really should have known better than entertaining the thought that this sequel’d show any improvement.

I’m starting to reconsider checking out every single short kiddy show that gets subbed. Happy Kappi clocks in under six minutes, barely managing to outline its premise (grade school girl finds a plush toy that turns out to be a prince from a fantasy world, and has magic powers. Wacky hijinks ensue). It’s very cheap-looking, too.

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2011 – Page 7.

Yesterday was the premiere of The World God Only Knows, Season Two. It’s basically more of the same, although on the upper range of the series : the jokes mostly work, and there’s some very good use of Keima’s genre savvy for comedic effect. The romance’s still as terrible as ever, but it’s not too annoying in this first episode.

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2011 – Page 9.

Winter 2011 capsules

A few words on the first episode of the second season of Kimi ni Todoke… Well, it’s actually “Episode 0”, for an obvious reason : it’s a recap of the first season.

Now, there was a truly awful recap episode in the middle of the first season, bringing nothing new to the table and saddled with a tedious and downright bizarre Greek chorus. But this is different : after all, it’s been nearly a year since I watched all this, so I don’t mind the plot refresher.

And moreover, the whole thing is from the point of view of Ume “Kurumi” Kurumizawa, Sawako’s unlucky bitchy rival for Kazehaya’s affections. While I don’t think we learn anything new here, it’s a nice change from Sawako’s viewpoint. And I admit I loved the gag around Kurumi’s Death Note.

On the other hand, there is the slight issue that Kurumi’s such an egotist that we barely get any insight into any of the other characters… and moreover, it completely skips the whole Chizuru/Ryuu thing, in which she had no involvement. But presumably all this is going to be covered in the series proper if needed.

The new OP & ED are nothing to write home about, and certainly less epic than the originals. I did get a chuckle out of the implication of Ayane/Pin in the OP, though.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2010-2011 – Page 4.

I’m not going to do a full review of the Supernatural – The Animation series of OVAs, but here are my thoughts on the first episode : it’s perfectly okay, but I’m not sure I’m going to keep watching. You can really see the “standard American TV series” setup (two brothers on a road trip investigating weird stuff in a new location each episode). The two leads have good chemistry, it’s got a decent sense of style, and it’s pretty good at what it does (paranormal thriller). On the other hand, the open-endedness of the premise (it adapts “the first two seasons of the TV show”, plus various original stuff) makes it clear there’ll be no real resolution in those OVAs.

Still, if I was more interested in the genre, I’d probably give it more of a chance, but I’m already watching too much stuff.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2010-2011 – Page 28.

OVA CHECK !

I’m horribly late as is on most of this stuff, so I’ll keep it brief.

Hen Zemi #1 (of 2) (“Abnormal Physiology Seminar”) is a prelude (or whatever) to a full TV series airing next spring. The premise is that a normal college girl attends a special course about “sexual perversion” (for credit, I presume), and gets tons of ludicrously embarrassing assignments from it. And that’s without going into the six other weirdoes attending the class or the very creepy teacher supervising it.

It’s actually better than it sounds – the fanservice could be much worse, Kana Hanazawa is as adorable as ever as the lead, and I’m all for a series that doesn’t demonize bizarre sexual quirks as long as they’re consensual (in other words, it’s miles better than MM!).

The problem is that it’s “nearly funny”, which doesn’t quite cut it. I did smile here and there, but that’s it. It may yet improve, so I’ll try getting the other OVA (out within a couple of weeks) and keep an open mind for the TV series, but I’m not too optimistic.

Mirai Nikki (“Future Diary”) is a 9-minute-long trailer testing waters for a potential future series. The gimmick is that our high school protagonist finds on his cell phone a detailed diary of his next 90 days (given by enigmatic paranormal entities). Various other people were given the same thing, and the whole thing is a game, won by the last person standing.

On these grounds, I’m sold. It’s an interesting premise, the atmosphere is built appropriately (it definitely feels very creepy), and I loved how dysfunctionally the relationship with the obligatory love-interest-with-a-diary-too started off. This reminds me of the best aspects of Death Note, although it’s different enough to be its own thing.

Yuri Seijin Naoko-san (“Lesbian Citizen Naoko-san”) is a 6-minute-long adaptation of a gag manga about… I’m not sure, actually. An sarcastic alien maid stalking a high-school girl and sniffing the skirts of any passing girl because she claims that’s the only way to get good reception from the stars. Also, she can randomly summon trains in the middle of a little street.

This is a very baffling short indeed. The key thing, though, is that it’s not funny at all, and that’s what kills it for me.

Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu: Matsuri #1 (of 2) is a bridge OVA before a proper second season next summer. It’s basically the same as ever, with a “cultural festival” backdrop to riff on the usual recurring jokes. It’s good fun, and I loved the multiple endings, but don’t bother with this unless you watched and liked the first season.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2010-2011 – Page 29.