Symphogear – The Swan Songs of the Valkyries (Senhime Zesshou Symphogear)

(13 episodes)

What’s it about ?

In the future, Earth is randomly assaulted by swarms of “Noises”, (basically : eldritch abominations). Our only effective means of defense are the Twei Wings, a pair of song-powered superheroines (supported by a whole secret agency) who have secret identities as idol singers.


Kanade, the red Twei Wing, who jumps into action without waiting for support when a swarm of Noise attacks one of their concerts. The big twist is that she sacrifices herself halfway through the episode to save some innocent bystanders by singing an actual swan song (i.e., the cost of its power is her own life).

Tsubasa, the blue Twei Wing, has obviously turned somewhat bitter as a way of coping with her partner’s death. She’s thrown herself into the job even more, in an emotionally detached way.

Out actual protagonist, at least for this episode, is Hibiki, a girl who was attending the concert and got caught into the attack ; Kanade was trying to save her, and she gets such an injury that it’s a wonder she survived (the scar does look quite suspect). Kanade’s sacrifice has obviously left a big impression on Hibiki, and when she later stumbles onto yet more Noises, she gathers all her strength and will to try and save a kid who happened to be there. When eventually surrounded by Noises, she even tries to sing her own swan song… except what it transforms her into looks rather more like a monster than a superheroine. Oops.

And just to make this more hopeless, the episode opens with a flashforward of Hibiki’s best friend visiting her grave. Oh, dear.

Production Values

This looks quite impressive indeed : the future looks wonderful, the Noises are creepy as heck (they don’t look too frightening until they actually attack, and urgh), the animation for the fights is crisp, and if you’re going to feature battle songs prominently, you can’t go wrong with Nana Mizuki (who’s on top form here).

Overall Impression

Wow, this took me completely by surprise. This is a show that lulls you into a false sense of security with its bright colours and cheerful atmosphere… until the Noises attack and innocent bystanders go down like flies. I’m glad they didn’t go for a darker palette, because the show is already brutal as it is.

It also helps that I have absolutely no clue where this is going, what with killing off one of the four main characters and promising to do the same to another one (and there’s no OP or ED yet to give any hints). This could turn into Tsubasa begrudgingly mentoring Hibiki as a replacement for Kanade… but if there’s something this first episode has proven, it’s that anything can happen.

Me likey.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2012 – Page 3.

Kaitou Tenshi Twin Angel: Kyun Kyun Tokimeki Paradise!!

What’s it about ?

Magical girls fighting colorful villains.


Haruka, aka Red Angel. The redhaired tomboy of the pair. Brash, terrible in class, more interested in sports and dudes, you know the type. Voiced by Yukari Tamura, of course.

Aoi, aka Blue Angel. The bluehaired girly girl of the pair. Soft-spoken, honor student, less good in a fight (but still kicking ass with her bow and arrows), you know the type. Voiced by Mamiko Noto, of course.

Their boss is actually their school’s principal, who’s helped by a ninja butler who likes to randomly show up from trapdoors whenever he needs to contact the pair.

The villain this episode tries to steal a necklace that is of course one of the seven McGuffins of the setting ; she’s the kind of bwahahah-evil villains that thinks that transforming the pair into catgirls is an effective tactic. And it’d have worked, too, if it hadn’t been for…

Misty Night, the mysterious masked man that’s very close to getting a lawsuit from Sailor Moon‘s Tuxedo Mask (he even throws roses the same way !), and is totally not the hot student council president Haruka has a crush on.

The OP teases that a third Angel is upcoming, but we don’t see her yet.

Production Values

Decent action sequences, I guess. The OP is –ing annoying in its squeakiness.

Overall Impression


Excuse me, I nearly fell asleep from the blandness of this show. I don’t think it’s possible to create more generic a magical girl show than this. Presumably it’s a pastiche of the genre, but there’s nothing interesting or funny in the way it’s done. I though at first it was a retro revival of some beloved old franchise, but aside from a pilot OVA a few years ago it seems to be completely new. As such, it’s quite baffling : it’s not a kids’ show (it airs at otaku’o’clock), and it’s not interesting enough to appeal to anyone else. Unless they keep on piling the fetishes during the fight scenes (the catgirl thing was still quite tame), which isn’t my thing but there’s a sizeable audience for that.

Anyway, avoid this.

via [In which I review] New anime, Summer 2011 – Page 3.

Ask Dr. Rin! (Dr. Rin ni Kiitemite!)

(51 episodes)

What’s it about ?

An ordinary junior high school student tries using her divination powers to improve her love life.


Meirin, our protagonist. She comes from a family that makes a living from Feng-Shui divination. Her brother has set her up the “Dr. Rin” webpage, where she gives Feng-Shui advice to whoever writes in (it’s quite popular among girls, to the point that his father is starting to lose business). She’s more than a bit clumsy, and madly in love with…

Asuka, her (male) love interest. Captain of the soccer club, good-looking, the works. He’s more than a bit annoyed by Meirin’s aggressive stalking, although he does soften up a bit after she saves him from a nearly-fatal accident.

Said accident was provoked by a mysterious blonde boy who stalks Meirin/Dr Rin very creepily, and isn’t above getting rid of the competition (read: Asuka) by possessing a crane and dropping a ton of junk on top of him.

There’s also a few other classmate of Meirin and Asuka’s, but they don’t make much of an impression yet, with the exception of Meirin’s best friend Yue, whom I hope is only kidding when she offers herself as an alternate target for Meirin’s affection.

Production Values

Not very good, but it does the job. I quite like the catchy OP tune.

I wondered for a bit whether Meirin’s divination stock footage was a parody of Sailor Moon-style transformations (colored ribbons of light wrap around her… for no reason, as she doesn’t change clothes at all !), but it seems most of the similarities comes from having the same music composer.

Overall Impression

Hey, this is actually quite fun ! Despite Meirin being an obnoxious and unrepentant stalker, she’s slowly grown on me. Even the bullshit Feng-Shui divination (which looks nothing like any Feng-Shui I’ve ever heard of, but does come with a marvellously toyetic divination station) fails to annoy me.

Now, I have no clue how you sustain 51 episodes on this premise, and it’s stuck into fansub-limbo-land anyway, so I can’t really recommend it. Still, I like it.

 Mighty Feng-Shui divination powers, activate !
Mighty Feng-Shui divination powers, activate !

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2001 – Page 6.

Prétear (Shin Shirayuki Hime Densetsu Pretear)

(13 episodes)

What’s it about ?

The baddies have unleashed seeds of misery onto Earth ! The Knights of Leafe immediately start running around to seal them, but their power is limited until they can find the legendary Prétear. (The gimmick is that she gets different powers from merging with each Knight.)

This is actually quite better than it sounds.


Himeno, our protagonist, has a much more complex background than your average high school magical girl. Her hopeless dad just married a very rich woman who basically owns the town (every company bears her name… or rather his, now) and lives in a ridiculously huge mansion. It’s not clear how that happened, but they do look genuinely in love. Anyway, Himeno doesn’t really get to enjoy it, as she’s martyrised by one of her stepsisters (the other just ignores her blatantly), and ostracised by most of her classmates as a gold-digger.

There are seven Knights of Leafe, all of them male. It’s very obvious most of them were designed as fanservice for the ladies, although three of them are underage for the “cute” factor.

The only one who really gets a personality so far is Hayate, the one Himeno randomly bumps into. It’s irritation at first sight. Too bad their hands connecting identify her as the Prétear : he’d much rather do without this brat.

Whoever the main villain is, she stays conspicuously off-screen (although the Knights do refer to her as female). Anyone taking odds on her being the quiet stepsister ?

Production Values

Perfectly okay, and it does succeed at building a foreboding atmosphere.

A pity that the ED proves that Himeno’s VA can’t sing, though.

Overall Impression

This is quite intriguing. Himeno belongs to an archetype (girl bullied by her stepfamily) that I’m not used to seeing in magical girl stories, although in retrospect it’s a perfect fit for a genre that’s all about wish fulfilment. When the series focuses on her, I’m quite enjoying it. The main plot is very basic, but the show makes a good job of selling it.

On the other hand, I’m not quite buying the Knights, who look like a bunch of bishonen clichés (with some cute shota thrown in for good measure). I fear this could turn into a male harem setting (especially with the blatantly unsubtle subtext of the Prétear merging with a Knight), and that’s the second last thing I want to watch.

This could turn out either way, really.

Blur effects shouldn't be a substitute for actual animation.
Blur effects shouldn’t be a substitute for actual animation.

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2001 – Page 4.

Princess Comet (Cosmic Baton Girl Comet-san)

(43 episodes)

What’s it about ?
In the Triangle Nebula (which seems to be in charge of monitoring all inhabited planets) should start the ritual ball where the Prince of Tambourine choses between the Princesses of Harmonica and Castanet… except he’s gone missing. Young Princess Comet of Harmonica is sent to Earth to look for him, but her quest doesn’t start very well…

This is the remake of a 60s live-action series. No, really.


Princess Comet, our 12-year-old protagonist. She really doesn’t care about all the formalities of her rank, but planet Earth looked AWESOME from afar, so she’s totally onboard for her mission. She’s got some magic star powers, but they’re honestly quite lame so far.

Rababou, her pet-thingy, is supposed to help and guide her, but he manages to get lost within minutes of landing on Earth. Oh, dear…

Her family : her father the king sleeps through half his seen, while her mother the queen is generically regal. There’s also an old chancelor-type dude who just can’t help droning on and on with exposition. (Comet being bored beyond tears by him is one of the most fun scenes of this episode.)

We’re also introduced to rival Princess Meteor from Castanet, although she doesn’t get to really do anything yet.

Production Values

Perfectly okay for this kind of thing. The character designs remind me of Heartcatch Precure, and there are worse standards to adhere to.

Overall Impression

Is this series supposed to be so depressing ?

In a refreshing swerve, when Comet shows up on Earth with no money and nobody to guide her, the shopkeepers refuse to give her any food for free, and she ends up sleeping in a park. Which is welcome, considering how boring the episode had been up to then. One might wonder what her parents were thinking when sending her there, though.

Now, there’s obviously some light at the end of the tunnel, as she eventually meets the mother of two twins she befriended earlier, with the implication that Comet’s going to find a roof to sleep under next episode. Presumably, wacky hijinks will be starting soon… but it’s still a bizarrely sad start for a series.

Not that I mean that the series is really worth getting out of your way to watch (I don’t think it’s even entirely subbed). It’s a kids’ show with some weird quirks, and that’s it.

 How many magical girl series end their first episode with their heroine starving on a bench under the rain ?

How many magical girl series end their first episode with their heroine starving on a bench under the rain ?

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2001 – Page 3.

Suite Precure

What’s it about ?

The baddies are trying to replace the Melody of Happiness with the Melody of Sorrow, but the good guys in charged stalled them by dispersing the notes of the Melody. It’s up to two random schoolgirls to save the day !


Our heroines, Hibiki the slightly tomboyish sports player and Kanade the honor student/sweet-maker. They have a long history together, but they’ve been squabbling over petty matters for quite a while. Interestingly, it’s Kanade who has the worst temper of the two, although they’re both good at saying the wrong thing and regretting it later. Those two have great chemistry in the relatively little screentime they get.

The good guys consist of Queen Exposition Aphrodite, who seems to vaguely rule over stuff, and the cat-thing Hummy, who’s dumb as a sack of hammers.

The bad guys consist of evil lord Mephisto (so camp I have trouble taking him seriously as a threat), a trio of singing henchmen that are already horribly irritating despite barely getting three lines in the whole episode, and finally Siren, Hummy’s evil counterpart (who can actually transform into a girl). Unlike everyone else in the last two paragraphs, I actually like Siren, as she sounds like the only competent and intelligent person among all those morons. That’s charisma for you.

Production Values

Not very good, I fear. Side characters appear lifeless when they don’t speak, and the Big Bad’s design is so ridiculous it’s laughable.

The OP and ED aren’t very catchy, which is kinda disappointing in a music-themed series. And the ED’s gimmick of having CG models of the girls dance in rhythm slides deep into uncanny valley – it’s even more disturbing than the Heartcatch version.

Overall Impression

You know, this ain’t so bad. It was a somewhat ballsy move to have the first half of the episode devoted to the overall plot and the two heroines only introduced later on (especially as the overall plot is pretty crap, let’s be honest). But it’s the little things that make it work : Hibiki and Kanade feel like “real” lapsed friends, and Siren’s a promising mini-boss.

The lack of scope of the main plot is worrying, and I’m not sure about the setting (everyone seems to be living in the same partly-magical world, which makes me wonder about the “routine” episodes). But I’m probably keep following it for a few more episodes to get a better sense of it.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2010-2011 – Page 27.

Afterschool Pleiades (Houkago no Pleiades)

(6-minute-long webisodes, although since they’re released 4 at a time it’s a lot like a standard 24-minute episode)

What’s it about ?

Magic-powered schoolgirls battle against a wrong-headed prettyboy for fragments of an interstellar drive.


Subaru, our naive newcomer viewpoint character. A bit slow on the uptake, but not too annoying. Seems naturally gifted for this, to the point of randomly stumbling into the hammer-space rooms where all this stuff is happening (which surprises everyone else). The fourth episode gives a decent reason why.

Aoi, Subaru’s “friend” and de facto leader of the girls (technically the “Club President” is the alien blob whose spaceship they are trying to recover the engine’s pieces for, but she seems more or less in charge). Very reluctant to bringing Subaru into all this stuff she had hidden from her, but you know how these things go.

The three other girls don’t rise above stereotypes : there’s a monotone one dressing in witch’s clothes for some reason, a kind one and an energetic one.

Minato, the guy, was hit by a fragment (or is it an actual star ?) two years ago and hasn’t been right in the head ever since. He wants to gather the engine pieces for his own purposes. Which makes him the de facto baddie.

Production Values

It looks more or less okay, but there are some bits of limited animation here and there that jumped to my eyes. No OP ; the ED is inoffensive fluff playing to production sketches.

Overall Impression


I have to hand it to GAINAX : they find new ways to troll every day. This time, it’s not so much the actual contents of the show (a by-the-numbers magical girl series), than the announcement that this is a co-production with SUBARU, of all people. I have absolutely no clue why, apart from the protagonist sharing the company’s name, and the logo briefly appearing at the start. If there’s any product placement here, I completely missed it.

Anyway, taken at face value, it’s a very generic show without much to recommend to it. The setting is slightly puzzling, but that’s it. I can’t find any clue only whether these four episodes are it all, or if there’s any more planned. I know I won’t bother to seek it out.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2010-2011 – Page 25.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

What’s it about ?

Technically a magical girl series, but it’s all about the atmosphere. Madoka is an ordinary middle school student, up until she starts having weird dreams of magical battles. Then the girl she saw fighting in her dream suddenly transfers in, she finds a wounded critter offering her powers, and she soon finds herself sliding into bizarre side planes where it’s not exactly clear who’s fighting whom.


Madoka, our protagonist. Tends to be pushed around a bit by her friends and family. I find it notable that her mother wears the pants and is the bread-winner of the family, while Daddy stays at home. This pretty much sets the tone of how much guys are going to matter in this series.

Homura, the mysterious transfer student, of course establishing she’s awesome at everything from maths to sports in a montage just after she’s introduced. Also : very –ing creepy. Her first interaction with Madoka is to lead her to an isolated place and warn her off from doing anything. After that, she acts threateningly towards a wounded critter, and it’s ambiguous whether she’s the one who provokes the slide into a dangerous side plane.

Sayaka, one of Madoka’s two best friends. The cheerful one. (There’s also a Yamato-Nadeshiko-in-training one.) Earns my love by distracting a powered up Homura with a fire extinguisher. (Also, wondering what this girl is thinking of being in full cosplay gear at school.)

Mami, an experienced magical girl who rescues Madoka and Sayaka, and obviously has a much better clue than us viewers about what’s happening. While always smiling and cheerful, she barely conceals her hostility towards Homura, making it clear that there’s much going on under the surface here.

Kyubey, the mascot rescued by Madoka. Enthusiastically offers Madoka and Sayaka to become magical girls at the end of the episode, which given everything else in the episode ends up sounding far more sinister than he probably intends.

Production Values

Wow. This looks gorgeous ; Studio SHAFT obviously pulled all the stops here. In particular, the backgrounds are very pretty, and the dream/side world sequences are a weird combination of CG and collage that work perfectly. I’m a bit less enthusiastic about the character designs, although they do work as a nice contrast to the grim settings. Also, props to Yuki Kajiura’s soundtrack, which is as atmospheric as ever.

No ED ; the OP’s song is average stuff, although there’s a lot going on in the animation.

Overall Impression

Given its pedigree, this was always going to either be a mess or a fantastic mesh of styles ; thankfully, it’s the latter. The contrast between the “childish” (the magical girl premise, the middle school setting, the character designs) and “grittier” elements (the dream and side world sequences, the music) works well to generate a “not all is as it seems” atmosphere, and the plot is obviously going somewhere. I also liked the restraint of not rushing Madoka into becoming a magical girl in the first episode, too, as everything else they included here has some purpose (I particularly like the characterization of Madoka’s mother and of her homeroom teacher, who both exude tons of personality despite their minimal screen time).

This is a strong contender towards the best show of the season.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2010-2011 – Page 5.