Winter 2012 capsules

Some quick notes :

Amagami SS Plus basically resumes where it left off : each of the 6 main girls gets 2 more episodes set after their original arcs. We start off with Ayatsuji (the verbally-abusive class president). Frankly, at first it’s more than a bit self-indulgent (a perverted bath scene that turns out to be the MC’s erotic dream ? Seriously ?), but it does pick up after that, and the new plot is actually a lot of fun. Got me worried for a while, though.

I’d gotten the impression that Nisemonogatari would star the Araragi sisters, but that’s only in the loosest sense of the term ; this is really a straight sequel to Bakemonogatari, with new arcs focusing on said sisters. Well, “focusing” may be too strong a word ; the arc is titled after Karen, and she doesn’t even show up this episode (while Tsukihi gets less than 5 minutes). The bulk of the episode is devoted to an extended prologue that I fail to see what it’s got to do with anything, and a long talk between Araragi and Mayoi that often makes me uncomfortable whenever he’s making a joking pass at molesting her.

Don’t get me wrong : the direction is still as impressive as ever, and the dialogue is on fire ; but this isn’t quite gelling together yet. (But then, I’ve never been that impressed by Bakemonogatari ; it’s good, but there are huge chunks that leave me cold.)

And maybe I should say a few words about Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki, a series of 3-minute shorts where a round cat gets adopted by a family. I’m getting the impression those shorts aren’t for me, because there’s barely any meat there ; although this one gets point for being faster-paced than most and managing to get in quite a few jokes. But that’s a few chuckles at best, and I’m not going to bother with any more of it.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2012 – Page 4.

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†Holic 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.

Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko (“Electromagnetic Wave Woman and Adolescent Man”)

(12 episodes ?)

What’s it about ?

A standard harem protagonist who did not get the memo that he was in a SHAFT production.


Makoto Niwa, our protagonist. In a reversal from the usual cliché set-up, he moves from the countryside to the city, which he hopes’ll allow him access to more than the few girls at his former school. Fortunately he keeps being sidetracked by the weirdness around him, so he’s not too annoying.

Meme Touwa, his aunt, with whom he moves in at the start of the episode. She seems to purposefully cultivate her looks and childish personnality to look younger ; and it works, as I wouldn’t have pegged her as 39. Her more bizarre trait, though, is how she deliberately ignores…

Erio Touwa, apparently Meme’s daughter. Or an alien, if one believes the nonsense she keeps babbling. She spends most of the episode wrapped inside a mattress, looking like a sushi roll. Which somehow doesn’t prevent her from ordering and eating pizza.

Production Values

This is actually remarkably free of SHAFT-isms, aside from Makoto often tilting his head backwards. As a result, it’s quite bland-looking.

Overall Impression

Meh. It’s far less weird than I’d been given to think, which is quite disappointing. While there’s some good comedic timing here and there, a lot of jokes are just lost in translation, and it’s just not very funny. The romance angle’s not very interesting either.

I’ll probably persevere with it for a couple more episodes because I’ve discovered myself to be a huge SHAFT-whore (see also : me sticking with Maria Holic Alive despite loathing it), but this isn’t a very promising first episode.

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

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.