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.

Freezing

What’s it about ?

The future. The world is at war with alien creatures called “Novas”, whose powerful “Freezing” fields prevent conventional warfare. The only thing that can get close enough to them is a “Pandora”, a magically empowered girl sensorily paired with a “Limiter” younger guy. The series starts in the middle of a “Carnivale”, a battle-royale training exercise/exam at the Pandora/Limiter academy.

Also, boobies and panty shots. Lots of them.

Characters

Bridgette L. Satellizer, the current top Pandora at the academy. Very, very badass (she dispatches #3, #4 & #5 while barely breaking a sweat, and before that wins a 1-against-11 fight). Not exuding much personality, and voiced by Mamiko Noto, of all people.

Kazuya Aoi, a new male freshman at the academy. Spends much of his screentime angsting about his dead sister, an elite Pandora who died heroically 4 years ago. Or did she ? When he stumbles onto Bridgette, he’s convinced she’s his sister. And thus dives head first into her chest, because that’s what brothers do. While the Carnivale’s still going, which obviously distracts her and causes her defeat at the hands of #2. (Well, it’s slightly ambiguous in the cliffhanger, but the next-episode-preview suggests that’s the result.)

Lana Linchen, a ditzy female freshman, whose chief role is to get exposition delivered to by her teacher (who fought alongside Kazuya’s sister way back when).

Production Values

For some reason the version I watched is at a 4:3 ratio, which is presumably a mistake (there are various shots that are clearly truncated).

Overall, it looks okay, although the action scenes don’t flow that well. And the character designs are very generic.

While the OP has a decent moody song, it looks very cheap, with tons of static shots and scenes recycled from the actual series (including Bridgette’s transformation sequence, which we saw in detail two minutes ago in the pre-credits sequence). The ED song is pretty bad, and playing to candid shots of the various girls. Urgh.

And wait, this is a daytime show ? (Seriously, the information I can find says it airs at 9:30am on Saturdays.) But… we actually see naked tits at one point ! WTF ?

Overall Impression

Well, the good news is that it’s better than Infinite Stratos. It managed to make me give a toss about the plot and the world-building, there’s an urgency and stakes to the fights (there’s some technobabble about how Pandoras can regenerate from near-fatal injuries and amputated limbs, but the hospital manager “would really like to have this Carnivale with zero casualties”, so it ain’t a sure thing), and if you like some fanservice and gore there’s plenty of it. And it obviously does have some ambition.

On the other hand… Well, it’s still a fanservice-fuelled “panty fighter” series, and you can really hear the plot gears grinding as the premise is forced into a harem setup towards the end. Also, the non-linear storytelling is sometimes a bit disorientating, between the Carnivale, the lesson scene, Kazuya’s subplot and the flashback to his sister’s last stand.

I’m really not sure about this one. There’s a somewhat decent story that compels me to watch another episode to check whether it’s going anywhere, but I fear it’s going to be smothered by the fanservice and the harem hijinks. I’m fearing a new Daimao, here.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2010-2011 – Page 9.

Rio – Rainbow Gate !

What’s it about ?

Follows the adventures of the star dealer of a high-class Casino, which seems to involve high stakes duels against nasty customers. “Adapted” from a series of pachinko gambling machines.

Characters

Rio, the *BOOBIES* title character. From what little personality *PANTIES* she displays, she’s a bit dim, and easygoing enough to let *BOUNCE* her pervy manager trick her into dodgy *KNOCKERS* costumes and situations. She has the superpower of *UPSKIRT SHOT* magically calming down a crowd around her, as well as *RANDOM WEDDING DRESS* making the odds favour whichever casino customers *CLOTHING DAMAGE* she wishes (to the point that clients crowd around her to benefit from her mojo).

Mint, the young granddaughter of a VIP client visiting the casino ; as the naive newcomer viewpoint character, she wanders around the setting while everyone else delivers exposition. After a while Rio is specially assigned to escort her around. Slightly brattish, but at tolerable levels.

Orlin Dunhill, our asshole villain of the week. After various unsuccessful assault attempts with his goons, he eventually challenges Rio to a poker duel… for reasons that, in a storytelling masterstroke, aren’t properly explained until its end (he’s after Mint’s teddy bear). He’s your usual charisma-deficient lech, and a moron to boot.

Rosa Canyon, a Hollywood actress and regular patron of the casino. Cue the “obaa-san” jokes. For some reason, she’s the one dealing the duel, instead of the dozens of random dealers running around.

There are various other side characters, such as a couple of bunny waitresses that have so little personality they even complete each other’s lines. Their main purpose is exposition and duel commentary.

Production values

This actually looks quite decent, with some nice animation for action scenes, and above all a wonderfully psychedelic sequence during the duel. But don’t even try watching it if you’re allergic to fanservice.

There’s no OP. The ED is an annoyingly peppy JPop number that has even more fanservice than the actual show.

Overall Impression

This… is actually a bit better than I imagined (but then I had very low expectations). The fanservice is less obnoxious than I expected, and mainly concentrated on Rio herself (it steers mercifully free of Mint). The plot is obviously just an excuse, but it’s all in good fun. There’s even a couple of good jokes.

Is it any good ? Well, no. But if you turn your brain off, it’s a semi-decent fanservice series that steers clear of harem clich├ęs (at least so far). I could see myself trying out another episode or two.

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