What’s it about ?

Several centuries in the future, most humans have linked themselves into the Matrix Fractale system, which seems like a cross between Second Life and Big Brother. Except we can see the weird avatars in the real world. This seems mostly an excuse for everyone to spend their idle lives isolated.


Clain, our teenage protagonist. He’s a vintage enthusiast (hey, look, a 64GB SD card !), and lives by himself in the middle of nowhere (although his parents regularly chime in through their avatars).

Phryne, a mysterious girl who suddenly shows up on a flying bike pursued by goons on a blimp. Crain rescues and hides her. It’s strongly implied she’s some sort of time-traveller.

The goons are a couple of MIBs led a small girl. Frankly, they act more like Team Rocket than competent government agents, and I really doubt they’ve actually got any actual official authority.

Another girl shows up at then end, but it’s too early to get a handle on her.

Production Values

My, this is gorgeous. They’ve obviously got some budget, and it shows. On the other hand, I don’t like the soundtrack : it often feels very poorly integrated with the action (a fanfare-ish number during quiet dialogue scenes ? WTF ?).

The OP takes the Fractale theme at heart and produces some wonderfully psychedelic visuals. The ED’s a nice melancholic piece.

Overall Impression

Well, this is certainly different from anything else in this season. It’s bursting at the seems with intriguing world-building, and it’s obvious a lot of thought was put into the setting. I’ve yet to fully understand it, to be honest. But it’s pulsing with earnestness, and I can admire that.

On the other hand, I’m not so sure about the characters. I’m not fond of Yuu Kobayashi voicing protagonists (they always feel flat, as opposed to when she does supporting characters), and the goons feel slightly out of place, like coming from a different show. But that’s probably the point, and they were by far the funniest thing in the episode anyway.

I’m really intrigued by this one.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2010-2011 – Page 16.

Wandering Son (Hourou Musuko)

Disclaimer : I’ve read the manga.

What’s it about ?

A boy who’d rather be a girl. A girl who’d rather be a boy. But the onset of puberty might ruin it all…


Suichi Nitori, our main character. He’s been experimenting with dressing as a girl for years, and by now he’s wandering in the streets alone in full drag. He describes himself as “wishy-washy”, and that’s pretty accurate.

Yoshino Takatsuki, his accomplice in crossdressing. They used to go on “dates” in the city (with her as a boy and him as a girl), but things have been awkward ever since he confessed to her and she refused.

Chizuru Sarashina, a bold girl who shows up in a male uniform for the first day of middle school just for the heck of it. She immediately becomes a role model for Yoshino.

Saori Chiba, a very jealous girl who has a thing for Suichi. Also an avid church-goer.

Maho Nitori, Suichi’s sister. Has started a modelling career, and is thus a bit annoyed that he’s using her best clothes when she’s not looking. But she’s not that hostile to his hobby. (Heck, they both started modelling together, although he has since dropped out.)

And TONS of other characters, like Suichi’s bespectacled sidekick, his and Yoshino’s adult transsexual friend, Maho’s model friend who has a thing for Suichi… But they barely get to do anything in this episode.

Production Values

It looks very pretty, with a gorgeous-looking watercolor look that extends to the characters. The classical score completes the “artsy” tone.

The OP is very bizarre : a fancy CG type for the credits over shots of the school… but it’s completely empty, devoid of any human beings. Are they planning to fill it with characters as the series goes ? The song’s nothing special. Meanwhile, the ED has a nice moody song that contrasts with minimalistic animation.

Overall Impression

Oh, dear. What were they thinking ?

If you’re feeling completely lost, like you’re joining this series halfway through… Well, you’re not entirely wrong, considering this adapts the start of Volume FIVE of the manga. As a result, there’s heaps of backstory alluded to, and major story beats are told rather than shown. Also, tons of supporting characters are barely introduced. I can’t help but wonder what somebody completely new to the series would understand of it.

But on the other hand, this episode does try to fit in lots of awkward exposition, to the detriment of its actual story. This is supposed to be Chizuru’s big entrance, and it feels like a complete afterthought. Urgh. It’s only in the second half that it starts finding its footing, when Suichi’s moody wandering through the city finally gets the space it needs to breathe (and I loved the wonderfully awkward end to the episode).

I’m sure that once this series gets a bit more underway, it will become much better. The source material is remarkable, after all. But the sudden jump midway into the story is sure to alienate most non-fans, which ain’t good for a series with such a difficult subject matter. I really can’t understand it : why not relate Suichi & Yoshino’s relationship from the start ? This is just baffling.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2010-2011 – Page 16.