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.

Moshidora (“What If a Female Manager of a High School Baseball Team Read Drucker’s Management ?”)

(10 episodes, aired on weekdays over the next two weeks)

What’s it about ?

Well, the title says it all. An anime adaptation of a best-selling light novel that’s basically an infomercial for Peter Drucker’s Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices.


Minami, our protagonist and new manager of the high school baseball club. She used to be quite good at the sport, but quit years ago because of a yet unclear incident that made her hate it. Anyway, she buys Drucker’s book by mistake while looking for some documentation on what she’s supposed to do, and proceeds to read it because, hey, what the heck, she spent the money and had better get some use of it.

Yuuki, Minami’s best friend for years and former manager of the baseball club. She’s got some chronic illness that put her in the hospital (with scheduled surgery down the line). Obviously she was in no shape to continue with the club, which is why Minami pitched in and takes it very seriously.

Ayano seems to be the assistant manager or something. Very shy, she doesn’t make much of an impression so far.

We don’t get to see too much of the actual baseball players yet, beside that they’re not much good and only a few are motivated enough to even come training. The pitcher only sees baseball as a line on his resumé for his future business, and so on.

Production Values

Below average. There’s no flair whatsoever to the directing, the animation’s cheap, and the soundtrack is so generic it hurts.

Overall Impression

Ouch. This is even worse than I was expecting. Low production values, exposition through omnipresent narration that never lets you forget that this adapts a novel, no attempt to conceal the blatant advertising for Drucker’s book, one-dimensional characters… and of course it’s baseball, one of the few sports I have zero interest in.

And yet… it’s a sports anime, and I’m a sucker for those due to being brought up on the likes of Captain Tsubasa and Attacker You !. I’m still quite curious about how a general “Management” book could be of any use for a sports team : the “Mission Statement” stuff this episode was already straining it a bit, how is the next chapter of “Marketing” going to be relevant ?

So yeah, I’m going to keep watching it mostly for the novelty value. And it’s going to be over quickly anyway.

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2011 – Page 15.

Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream

What’s it about ?

Young girls starting a career at the Prism Show, an ice-skating/dance spectacle that’s all the rage these days.


Aira, our clumsy protagonist, who had barely heard of the Prism Show before and can barely make three steps without falling over herself, but still somehow gets scouted in the street and set to perform in front of an audience of thousands the same day. She plays along mostly because the dancers get to wear cool clothes.

Rhythm (no, really, that’s her name), Aira’s self-proclaimed rival, who gets scouted at the same time when Aira trips over her. At least she’s got decent ice-skating skills, although not enough to execute the super-dupper dance move the audience is expecting. (But Aira can, of course…)

Mion, the idol who was supposed to perform her debut at the Prism Show but has suddenly gone missing, triggering the random scouting of replacement dancers. Actually, she doesn’t even show in person during this first episode.

Of the Prism Show we also see the two main producers (one’s a shrewd pragmatist, the other’s an eccentric with a eye for hidden talent – well-hidden in the case of Aira) and the three male dancers for the B-act (probably future love interests for the three girls).

We also get a long opening skit with Aira’s family, who skirt very near the line of being quite annoying (although the scene’s saved with the punchline to Dad & Mom’s double act).

Production Values

Pretty good for a (girls’) kids’ show. I particularly like the 3D rendering for the ice-skating sequences, which barely enter the Uncanny Valley at all.

Someone thought it’d be a good idea for the ED to depict the voice-actresses in live-action… It just looks ridiculous. Especially since they’re not even wearing the same costumes as their roles, for some reason (maybe it’s the school uniform ? We haven’t seen it yet…).

Overall Impression

Yet another kids’ show which could not proclaim “NOT FOR ME !” any louder. I’m not a fashion-obsessed teenager, I don’t care about X-Treme ice-skating, and the plot contrivances to get Aira on stage annoy rather than amuse me. There are some okay jokes, but not enough to overcome the huge prejudice I have against this kind of series.

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2011 – Page 14.

Blue Exorcist (Ao no Exorcist)

(25 episodes)

What’s it about ?

A middle school dropout discovers he’s the son of Satan. You’ll have to wait the second episode to see how he decides to become an Exorcist, though.


Jin, our protagonist. He spends most of the episode trying to hold a job… and failing miserably , because he’s quite clumsy. It doesn’t help that he’s got super-strength, some blue fire powers, and can now suddenly see the flurry of demons and sprites wreaking havoc on the real world. Also, his white knight personality tends to lead him into fights with local bullies (which he usually wins, but still).

Yukio, his “twin brother”, although given they barely look alike and the whole “son of Satan” thing, I’m not sure I trust that. Anyway, he’s basically perfect : calm, studious, and just getting a scholarship to a prestigious high school. Jin doesn’t like being constantly compared to him, but they do love each other.

Father Fujimoto, their legal guardian, and head Exorcist of the local church. He’s awesome personified, at least when he isn’t being lecherous. He did know about Jin’s ancestry, but tried to give him a normal life. Jin’s powers awakening rule that choice out, though.

We see quite a few other characters : the church’s apprentices, the various co-workers at Jin’s job, the local bullies… all of them are quite one-note, though.

Production Values

There’s something about the character designs and the animation that feels a bit cheap to me, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Anyway, it looks quite ugly and lacking in atmosphere. The pacing’s quite a bit wonky, too – the last few scenes all felt like the episode should have stopped there.

Overall Impression

Oh, sweet. A series I can drop immediately without any remorse.

There’s not much to like, here. Most of the episode is devoted to Jin’s work hijinks, which is just boring. It fails to make me care about the main plot, and Jin’s a brat I can live without. The whole thing reeks of clichés and well-worn plot devices. And it just doesn’t look very good.

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2011 – Page 13.

Hyouge Mono

(39 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Japan’s Warring States era from the perspective of an tea-obsessed esthete.


Sasuke Furuta, our main character. He’s technically an elite messenger/diplomat for Nobunaga Oda, although he doesn’t really get to display any skill at it in this episode. On the contrary, he easily gets distracted by irrelevant stuff around him (such as other attendees at a meeting’s poor fashion sense), leading to him not paying attention when important people are talking to him.

Nobunaga Oda, the warlord. This series depicts him as quite a bit of a thug, to be honest. I think he tolerates Sasuke because he thinks he’s funny.

Hideyoshi Hashiba, one of Oda’s major vassals and all-around snake. He completely bungles Sasuke’s mission by barging in with his soldiers at the least opportune moment. I can’t exactly see why he’d do that, apart to mess with him.

Our mission of the week involves Sasuke trying to arrange a rebel vassal’s reddition and pardon in exchange of a prized teapot the rebel owns (since he’s an esthete who’d probably like owning the teapot too, this may have been a test on Sasuke’s loyalties). I’d probably take the dude more seriously if he wasn’t wearing that terrible wig that just makes him look ridiculous.

Production Values

Fairly good ; this looks like a decent feudal Japan drama (if you don’t pay attention to what’s actually happening).

Overal Impression

Well, this is certainly a thing. A very weird and homoerotic thing. (The OP and ED being love songs don’t help.) The historical figures in this are barely more in character than in Sengoku Otome. I’m probably missing a lot of references due to knowing fuck all about feudal Japan. And still…

I found this absolutely hilarious. The disconnect between the “serious” artstyle and the characters’ ridiculous behaviour works perfectly. I’m not sure if the joke can sustain itself for 39 (!) episodes, but so far it’s a riot.

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2011 – Page 12.

Deadman Wonderland

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

In the near future, over the ruins of a cataclysm-destroyed Tokyo lies Deadman Wonderland, the first private prison/attraction park combo. Come with your whole family to see the inmates getting humiliated in deadly attractions ! Oh, and they’d better play along, as their locked collars are programmed to kill them if they don’t eat candy for three days.


Ganta, our poor middle-schooler protagonist. His class got massacred by “the Red Man”, who left him as the lone survivor. Of course, he was immediately designated as a scapegoat, got the death sentence, and got sent to Deadman Wonderland in the meanwhile. The (presumably fake) footage of him incriminating himself while talking to his public counsel probably didn’t help. For some reason, the Red Man injected a glowing red stone into his chest, which gives Ganta superpowers in a pinch. He’s gonna need them.

Tamaki, Ganta’s public counsel AND the warden of Deadman Wonderland. Now there’s an obvious conflict of interest that suggests he’s got enough clout to get away with it. This smiling snake makes for a lovely villain to hate. He makes arrangements for Ganta to have an “accident” as soon as possible, which seems like overkill given the poor kid’s death sentence and his complete lack of popularity among the other inmates. This is because he seems to actually know quite a lot about the Red Man, and is quite curious about Ganta’s survival.

Makina, the hardass, sadistic security officer at Deadman Wonderland. She made me wince a bit by loudly claiming a G cup.

Shiro, the weird albino girl who makes a beeline for Ganta. I’m not even sure she’s actually an inmate, what with her wearing a different collar from anyone else (though to be fair, we don’t really see any other female inmates yet). Getting around in a supposedly max security facility seems to hold no problems for her, and she’s quite the martial artist (although a shovel to the back of the head still puts her down). She’s voiced by Kana Hanazawa in her cheerful mode, which is actually an inspired choice for a character who’s obviously completely bonkers.

At the end of the episode we get flashes of various other inmates that’s probably be important later on.

Production Values

Quite good. The opening massacre scene is marred by some censoring that makes portions of it completely impenetrable, but after that it’s golden. In particular, the action sequences are quite impressive.

Overall Impression

Hey, this is pretty good ! The premise is obviously completely insane and outrageous, but this first episode makes a good job of selling it as an interesting starting point our protagonist must fight against. It’s very well-paced indeed, speeding through the trial to make it seem even more of a joke, and presenting lots of exposition without it feeling too clunky.

Now, I of course have some reservations about a 12-episode adaptation of a still-ongoing manga, especially given how plot-driven this story seems. Is it going to find a satisfying endpoint, or are they gonna strand us with a cliffhanger for a second season ? Time will tell. But so far, so good.

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2011 – Page 12.

Aria the Scarlet Ammo (Hidan no Aria)

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

In the near future, random terrorism has become such a problem that there’s now an academy devoted to training mercenaries from elementary school onwards.


Kinji, our high school boy protagonist. While he spends most of the episode whining about wanting to quit the mercenary school, he suffers from a bizarre medical condition that alters his behaviour to one of a cliché action hero when he gets to excited. Anyway, on his way to school he discovers someone planted a bomb on his bicycle, and he’s stalked by killer Segways. He’s saved at the last minute by…

Aria, aka the standard Rie Kugimiya-voiced tsundere loli. The variation here is that, like nearly every character in this setting, she’s armed to the teeth. (How does she hide those katanas behind her back ? They’re taller than her torso !) She makes her entrance by parachuting off a skyscraper in a scene that was probably meant to look cool but just ends up making no sense whatsoever.

Shirayuki, Kinji’s “friend” who does all his domestic chores for him, in the hopes he’ll take the hint. (He doesn’t.)

We get to see a few more characters at school, but none of them rise above the usual stereotypes for now. There’s even a teacher who spends all his screentime delivering a lecture describing the setting to students who presumably already know all this stuff.

Production Values

Some decent action sequences, but the most striking thing here is the rampant fanservice, with every single girl being heavily sexualized and our protagonist landing into more chests than reasonable.

Also, gun porn. Lots of gun porn.

Overall Impression

What the heck is this shit ?

The writers probably find it clever to have the protagonist complain at length about the premise. It’s not ; it’s just bloody irritating and makes me loathe him. His plot-convenient MPD and the harem hijinks don’t help one bit.

Some people might get some entertainment from crazy shit such as the killer Segways, but this kind of manufactured zaniness just rubs me the wrong way. Avoid.

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2011 – Page 12.

Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai (“We still don’t know the name of the flower from that day”)

(11 episodes ?)

What’s it about ?

Six kids used to be joined at the hip way back when, but now they’ve drifted apart. Can they come back together ?


Jinta “Jintan” Yadomi, our protagonist, who used to be the leader of the group but has now become a loser high-school dropout. It progressively becomes obvious why as the episode progresses.

Meiko “Meima” Honma, who keeps nagging him while being adorable. [SPOILER : her death years ago triggered the group’s dissolution]. Jinta figures he’s suddenly seeing her because of stress, but she acts far too real to be an hallucination (although he’s the only one who can see her, causing much awkwardness to ensue). It’s not clear yet how she died, the (numerous) flashbacks only show her running away and never coming back.

Naruko “Anaru” Anjo, whose metamorphosis from a mousy glasses girl to a member of the popular cliques is something to behold. Jinta keeps claiming she doesn’t like him, despite much evidence to the contrary (and her tsundere-lite denials only fool the both of them). The flashbacks even suggest that her jealousy about Jinta is the indirect cause of Meima running away.

Atsumu “Yukiatsu” Matsuyuki and Chiriko “Tsuruko” Tsurumi are the “successful” kids of the bunch, now enrolled into the local prestigious high school instead of the dump Jinta doesn’t attend. He despises what Jinta’s become ; she’s a bit more sympathetic. They’re obviously a couple.

Tetsudo “Poppo” Hisakawa used to be Jinta’s sidekick ; now he’s a lot more confident in himself and has taken over the group’s old hideout for his own purposes.

Production Values

Quite nice looking, and the various characters’ body language are very well done indeed.

Overall Impression

Now we’re talking. This isn’t Hanasaku Iroha, but the characters are well developed and feel real, which is essential for such a series. While there’s an obvious direction for this to go (Meima’s ghost helps the group to rekindle their friendships, Jinta to put his life back together, and sets him up with Naruko so that he can finally move on), it’s still a compelling journey and I’m in for the duration.

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

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.

[C] The Money of Soul and Possibility Control

(11 episodes ?)

What’s it about ?

A loser boy’s adventures into the world of EXTREME trading-card gaming, with fight scenes in a fancy holographic parallel world and an ethereal guide to advise him.


Yoga, our college protagonist with realistic (if messy) hair. He works two part-time jobs to make ends meet, although that doesn’t amount to much given the current economic crisis. At least he’s sensible about his expenses.

Hanabi, Yoga’s not-girlfriend who still supports him quite a bit. (But when he works up the courage to ask her out for dinner, she points towards her boyfriend, who’s waiting for her. Harsh.)

Masakaki, the supremely irritating dude who makes Yoga an Offer He Can’t Refuse and. Just. Won’t. Go. Away. The offer involves unlimited funding, with the provision it has to be spent in the Financial District… which does not look like a real place but some rather like sort of parallel digital world. Yoga eventually relents.

We spend most of the first half of the episode with the former owner of Yoga’s membership into the Financial District… and considering how he ends up jumping in front of a train, we can see the Deal does not always end well.

We also see various people in the Financial District, including a quirky cab driver, a couple of elf-like girls, and the badass dude who creams out Mr (Rail-)Roadkill in a duel.

Production Values

Impressive. The Financial District has obvious CG everywhere, but it works, as it makes it all the more otherworldly. I also like the snazzy effect when subtitles and the like are incrusted on screen.

Also, there’s some very cool Taku Iwasaki music.

Overall Impression

Umm. On the one hand, it’s certainly got some very good production values, and I like the grim description of our protagonist’s life. It’s a very atmospheric series indeed.

On the other hand… Well, the centerpiece of this episode has two characters in a glorified Yu-Gi-Oh-style duel, summoning virtual critters and launching spells to hack at each other’s life points bank accounts.

I’m not sold yet, really.

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2011 – Page 10.