Kino’s Journey

(13 episodes + 3 specials, 2003, 2005, 2007)

My previous exposure

Suggested in this very thread. And I vaguely remember having heard of it before.

What’s it about ?

Our protagonist Kino travels between various countries, atop her faithful motorbike Hermès. (Who can talk. Don’t ask.)

What did I think of it ?

This is a very episodic series, alternating between several tales in a single episode, up to a two-parter halfway through. The setup is basically always the same : Kino arrives in a new town/country, learns about their customs, stuff happens, and she leaves after three days. The whole thing is an excuse for exploring human sociology, and why they do what they do, however pointless it is. In particular, there’s a great unspoken ironic parallel in the “3 men and the railroad” between the 3’s pointless task, the “country where people don’t need to work (but do anyway, because doing something pointless is better than doing nothing)” tale-within-a-tale, and Kino’s own aimless wandering.

Kino is a very compelling protagonist, despite us barely ever getting into her head at all. She doesn’t talk much and offers no inner monologue ; Hermès’s whole role is to offer a naive proxy for the viewer so as to try and understand her. A few episodes offer some explanations about her backstory, although a great deal is left unsaid. What little we do get to see, though, I really like ; the Colosseum two-parter shows she’s got a strong sense of justice and a nasty sense of humour. I also like that she sometimes completely fucks up (seriously, driving that family of androids to suicide can’t have been her intention).

Another strong point of the series is that it knows how to vary tones across its tales ; it can go from the cheerful story of the first airplane to the grim and bloody Colosseum two-parter. The soundtrack is intriguing ; along with some direction effects, it often emphasizes the artificiality of the story and injects a dimension of “something’s not quite right” that contrasts nicely with the naive character designs. This works especially well in the second special where Kino goes on her first “real” journey.

It’s a bit of a shame that the last special is among the weakest tales (with CG backgrounds that are a bit too distracting to be impressive), though. Still, this has been a great series to watch, and is the first one suggested in this thread to join my Top 30.

via [LTTP/WIW] Various anime from the 00s and beyond – Page 9.


(6-minutes episodes)

What’s it about ?

Raunchy “comedy” set in girls’ high school.

This series became infamous when the network refused to air the first episode ; the producers also pulled the third one off the air due to “self-restraint”. Quite frankly, it sounds more and more like a publicity stunt.


Aya, our protagonist. Self-centered, rude, abusive to her “friends”, and often downright stupid, she has no redeeming features whatsoever. (Well, unless you’re into huge, fake-looking melons.) Most of the series revolves around her histrionics.

Konatsu, Aya’s best friend chewtoy. Innocent and pitiful, she makes for an easy target.

A few other characters show up, such as their bland third friend, the resident pervert, Aya’s delinquent sisters…

Production Values

Not very good, but hey, it’s a comedy, it doesn’t matter. I do like a bit how Aya’s face constantly changes artstyles depending on her mood.

It’s obviously very fanservice-y, what with Aya constantly spilling out of her blouse or spending most of the first episode without panties on… But it does feel like the creators are just baiting the censors in a bid for controversy. (The next two episodes are way tamer, aside from a gratuitous short scene of Aya and Konatsu’s butts at one point in the third.)

Overall Impression

Oh, dear. A comedy series that ain’t funny. What’s more to say ?

Well, that may be overstating it a bit : there are a few jokes that do work. The problem is that the show proceeds to drive every one of them into the ground with no subtlety whatsoever. Also, while Aya could work in small doses, a whole show about her (even in 6-minute shorts) just makes her unbearable. I get that we’re supposed to hate her, but there’s too much of her here.

Also, the censor-baiting got on my nerves after a while. Especially when it became clear that the show was way more comfortable recycling Azumanga Daioh’s hiccup skit. It just feels forced.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2012 – Page 12.

Smile Precure !

(50-ish episodes)

What’s it about ?

It’s February, time for yet another iteration of the Precure franchise. (Kid-friendly magical girls, basically.)

This year, the dominant theme seems to be stories.


Miyuki, aka Cure Happy, our hyperactive protagonist. A fan of all kinds of stories, from fairy tales to TV superhero shows, as long as they get a happy end. She tends to voice her overactive trains of thought in public, which brings her tons of intrigued looks from bystanders. As it is, I can’t decide whether I’m charmed or I want to strangle her ; hopefully she’ll become a bit more subdued once the cast gets a bit more rounded.

Candy, the mandatory annoying toyetic critter. She manages to be even more ineffectual than the average (she looks for Precure warriors by randomly shouting “Precure !” in the street).

Our antagonist this episode is Wolfrun, a wolf-dude. So far, he’s utterly generic.

We also get a good glimpse of the girls slated to become the other four Precure ; there’s the hyperactive one from Kyoto, the shy one, the responsible one, and the well-bred class representative.

Production Values

Perfectly alright. This time around, we get bright colours and character designs that are way less fussy than Suite Precure, although it’s not quite as stylised as Heartcatch Precure. It’s a good balance, I think.

This is somehow a season saddled with terrible-to-bland-at-best OPs (even Persona 4 and Mirai Nikki have switched out what were the best OPs of last Fall), and this one doesn’t detract from the rule. The ED’s a bit more catchy.

Overall Impression

Well, at least it’s not Suite Precure. That was quite dire indeed.

So far, it’s off to a slow start. It looks like we’ll need four more episode until the team is assembled and the character dynamics become clearer ; there’s some promise but it’s too early to judge. And we’ve barely seen anything of the villains.

I’m going to reserve my judgement for now.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2012 – Page 10.

Black★Rock Shooter

(8 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Melodrama about growing friendship between junior high school girls… interspersed with symbolically-linked action sequences starring their mute alternate personae in a psychedelic fantasy world.

The concept started from a supercell music video, then got a pilot OVA in 2010 ; this is another version that’s supposed to be telling the story properly.


Mato Kuroi, our exuberant protagonist. Her “introspective” narration (“The sky is blue !”) suggests she might not be the brightest bulb in the bunch. She’s quick to make friends… whether they actually want to or not. (And she’s aware she might be a bit too pushy on that front.)

Yomi Takanashi, an asocial classmate whom Mato takes a shine to. They do bond quickly (over a children’s illustrated book, of all things), but the problem is that Yomi is lorded over by…

Kagari, a tyrannical disabled girl who comes over regularly to her house. Let’s not mince words : she’s the villain of the piece, with overblown musical cues driving the point home.

The supporting cast include Mato’s generic best friend, and a school counsellor (wait, those actually exist in anime ?).

Mato’s alter ego in the fantasy world is the title Black★Rock Shooter, a scantily-clad action chick who can transform her hand into a giant cannon-gun. Besides everything in the scenery trying to kill her, she turns out to be fighting what are obviously the alter egos of Kagari and Yomi. It’s not very clear yet, but the little I remember from the OVA heavily hinted that the “real” scenes were flashbacks set before Mato got access to the fantasy world.

Production Values

Obviously, most of the animation budget went to the fantasy action sequences, which are very impressive indeed, and always clear to follow despite their insanity. The “normal world” sequences are obviously more pedestrian, although the body language remains good throughout.

And obviously, most of the soundtrack comes courtesy of supercell. It works out quite well, I think.

Overall Impression

Well, that was quite better than I expected. I wasn’t a fan of the original OVA (the “normal” sequences were just trite and boring there), but this is an improvement on nearly all fronts. While not outstanding on its own right, the “normal” thread is just entertaining enough not to detract too much from the “fantasy” action, and much better at providing context for it than the first time around. (Although Kagari might be a bit too much on the nose to entirely work as an antagonist.)

I’m definitely going to follow this one.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2012 – Page 9.


(10 12-minute episodes, 2006)

My previous exposure

None, beyond the notion that this is an early Studio SHAFT show, and I thought I should watch more of those.

(Also, I needed some counter-programming for Mushishi.)

What’s it about ?

A junior advertising worker drone starts housing a rookie voice-actress after her flat burns down. One thing leads to another, although their relationship is quite rocky indeed.

It doesn’t help that she then gets hired on his next project (not that he had any role in the decision), and she prefers to keep their relationship hidden so that the conflict of interests isn’t too obvious. Awkwardness ensues.

What did I think of it ?

I only noticed it too late : Shinbo didn’t direct this. So, none of his usual quirks are present, and this is a bog-standard romantic comedy with no creativity whatsoever in the photography. Oops.

Still, does it work on that level ? Well, just barely. The plot doesn’t go anywhere interesting in the very short running length, the characters don’t have much maturity or personality, and the supporting cast remain caricatures. There’s a semi-interesting plotline about the female lead’s career that feels more genuine than most depictions of the voice-acting business, but nothing to go out of your way for.

It doesn’t help that the format actively works against the story. The 12-minute length is a brutal mistress, and it’s obvious the story has been arbitrarily cut in pieces to fit it. (The first episode doesn’t even manage to establish the premise !) Also annoying are the random scene transitions every three minutes or so that are so jarring they took me out of the show.

I won’t say it was painful to watch, but there’s very little to recommend here.

via [LTTP/WIW] Various anime from the 00s and beyond – Page 9.