Fall 2011 capsules

Just watched the first Chibi Devi! episode, although I don’t feel like making a full review. It’s yet another flash-animated 5-minute web-thingie. The premise : a bullied, lonely high-school girl suddenly gets a baby-devil dropped on her. Basically, Beelzebub without the delinquent angle… Frankly, there’s not much of interest there. The protagonist is boring, the jokes aren’t original (or funny), and it barely gets anywhere.

As skippable as any the recent similar stuff.

via [In which I review] New anime, Fall 2011 – Page 9.

High Score

(8 3-minute episodes, airing from late November to January)

What’s it about ?

Cheap-looking adaptation of a 4-koma gag manga about assholes in high school.


Megumi, our “heroine”, an alpha bitch who tramples over everyone else at her school, sometimes literally.

Masamune, her self-centered boyfriend, who devotes his whole screentime mentioning how handsome he is.

Endless scores of one-note victims complete the cast.

Production Values

Over the course of these review threads I’ve seen my share of shoddily-animated shorts, but this one takes the cake. Ugly character designs, barely any animation at all, this just looks awful.

Overall Impression

It is possible for this kind of shorts to be decently entertaining despite the shoe-string budget (Nyaruani was nearly okay on average, for example). There have been a few decent series about utterly unlikeable leads. And I usually like Eri Kitamura quite a bit.

But this is just dire. There’s absolutely nothing to like here ; presumably the lead couple’s antics are supposed to be funny, but there’s just no actual jokes there to be found. There’s jerks for three minutes, and that’s it.

This is not the Worst Anime Ever, because I’ve witnessed stuff where the very premise was loathable. This is just a terribly-looking comedy that utterly fails to be funny. But you shouldn’t really bother with it.

via [In which I review] New anime, Fall 2011 – Page 19.

Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing

What’s it about ?

In a steampunk world where everything of note happens on airships, the eeeevil Ades Federation invades the peaceful kingdom of Turan under the pretense of peace talks. Also, pirates !

This is a sequel to a 2003 series, although I’m pretty sure the two sides and the conflict between them (not to mention most of the cast) are new. Anyway, it’s decades later and the events of the first series hopefully aren’t required knowledge (because gods know I’ve forgotten most of the plot by now).


Fam, our protagonist. The kind of reckless moron who regularly sleepwalks out of a flying airship (fortunately, her sidekick had the presence of mind to tie her down beforehand). We get some blatant foreshadowing when it’s stated outright that someone as crude as her can’t possibly be a princess, heavens no ! Anyway, despite (or maybe because of) her recklessness, she’s somewhat in charge of the pirate gang’s field operations (and pretty good at it, too).

Giselle, her sidekick. She has no personality whatsoever besides shuddering everytime Fam does something stupid (which is most of the time).

Dio, a major character from the original series, is inexplicably tagging along with the pirates. He manages to outshine Fam in recklessness and outrageous stunts, and he’s got more charisma too.

Liliana and Milia […] Turan, the two princesses governing the kingdom for now. Liliana is level-headed and an awesome leader (hello again, Ms. Sawashiro !), while Milia’s just an annoying brat who bullies the help. Guess who’s probably gonna get more screentime ? Anyway, their airship gets surrounded by scores of eeeevil Ades ones, but they get rescued by the pirates against the odds (thanks to Fam employing tactics that make the Ades captains look like chumps for falling for it).

We also get a short glimpse at the people in charge of Ades, who at least look actually competent.

Production Values

Welcome to a world populated with CG airships and architecture ! And, well CG anything, really (did they really want to make that newspaper look like it’s printed on a plank on wood ?). It’s quite well animated indeed, although the style does nothing for me.

This series continues the tradition of Last Exile having terrible OP songs that sound like crap. In general, the soundtrack is quite dire, not because the score is especially bad (although some pieces are decidedly uninspired), but because the sound editing is horribly subpar : the music starts and stops at random places, sometimes drowns the dialogue out, or is just ill-fitted to the scenes it plays over.

What did I think of it ?

Disclaimer : I didn’t like the original series. This makes me overly sensitive to every little flaw in this… and they’re many. The production values, one of the major selling points here, just don’t impress me, because of the shoddiness of the finish. The characters are quite generic indeed. The setting has lost whatever depth it used to possess, leaving us with a black-and-white conflict with no ambiguity whatsoever. And I just don’t care.

If this was an entirely new show, I might have given it a couple more episodes to change my mind… but I just don’t trust it to improve, having been badly burned by the original series.

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

Guilty Crown

(22 episodes)

What’s it about ?

A future dystopia where biological terrorist attacks have allowed brutal totalitarians (under control of foreign interests) to take over Japan. A high-school student finds himself involved with a group of “terrorists” smuggling a biological weapon out of a lab, and obtains some superpowers by accident. Also, mecha.

If this synopsis sounds suspiciously like Code Geass, well the head writer here worked on that too. But the tone is quite different.


Shu, our protagonist. I hasten to note that he’s very different from Lelouch, especially given his lack of charisma. He’s just a normal boy way out of his depth who feels impotent against the dystopia.

Inori, a pop singer who somehow managed to smuggle a vial of something out of a lab. After a long chase scene, she gets arrested right in front of Shu (after stumbling into his little hideout), but not before giving him the vial, so that he can transmit it to…

Gai, leader of the terrorist cell, and badass enough to take care of a few thugs who had zeroed in on Shu without even breaking a sweat. He’s got an awesome theme tune, too. But the cops catch up with them before he can even start to explain the plot…

We get to see a few more “terrorists” (how the heck did they get their hands on a mecha ?) and some higher-ups in the dystopia, but they don’t get enough screentime yet for me to really get a handle on them.

Production Values

Production IG are on full form here : this looks gorgeous, the action sequences are fluid, and the opening chase scene’s direction is a thing of wonder. The soundtrack is ace too.

What did I think of it ?

Clearly the highlight of the season. It’s ambitious and has enough budget to pull it off ; the worldbuilding around the dystopia feels genuine (turf conflicts between officials is definitely the way to go to make it halfway credible) ; and moreover it’s just got style. I was slightly disappointed by the nature of the “Guilty Crown” weapon (a giant blade thingie ?), but that’s minor. A more major problem is the protagonist, who needs to shape up and stop whining very quickly if he wants not to be overshadowed by the much more charismatic supporting cast.

Still, this shows a lot of promise, and may well be the best first episode of the season.

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


(11 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Mystery series set in the near future.


Shinjuuro Yuuki, “the Defeated Detective”. He’s very good at his job, but gets involved in cases so politically sensitive that they tend to get covered up by the authorities (hence his nickname, as his successes never get publicized to the wider public).

Inga, his intense pint-sized sidekick. Or is it Inga, the tall and sexy woman he claims to be his “boss” and who can hypnotize anyone in giving one (and only one) truthful answer ? Obviously there’s something bizarre at work here…

Rinroku Kaishou, elite consultant in Justice affairs (among other stuff). Apparently in the future justice will be privatized and corrupted so that this dude can order the whole system around. Sure, he’s a talented sleuth, solving the whole case despite not even being on the scene (he’s a recluse), but he’s also the one announcing the cover-up in the same breath.

Rie Kaishou, our point of view character so far, daughter of the former, sent to a political gala in his stead because he can’t be bothered. She fancies herself as a good sleuth too (and invokes his authority until he barges in through video-conference), but she gets carried away by the first red herring…

Izumi Koyama, a prosecutor. She’s mostly superfluous in the proceedings (which she obviously seems to resent quite a bit), and is often reduced to helping some exposition along.

The case of the week involves a businessman who allegedly embezzled money from reconstruction efforts (“as you know, our country was recently at war with terrorists…”), and gets killed halfway through the costume gala he set up to try and clear his name.

Production Values

It’s Studio BONES, of course it looks good. I note that they somehow managed to dress half the cast in period 19th-century garb, eh. The character designs have a bit more style than their usual offerings (especially Inga, in both forms).

What did I think of it ?

Well, this is certainly a fast episode : it burns through a complete mystery plot (including two full-blown red herrings) and some extensive setting exposition at breakneck speed. While you do need to pay attention (in particular, the “description of character” overlays are a bit too fast), it never loses sight of clarity. While it’s hard to try and deduce the solution before it’s given (especially are some crucial data is shown too late because of screentime constraints), it’s still a decent mystery in itself, with some nice pieces of foreshadowing.

I’m a sucker for the mystery genre : of course I’m going to keep watching this. But the quality is quite good, and I’m intrigued by the setting and Inga’s weirdness. It also seems to be fully aware there are only 11 episodes available, and is paced appropriately, which is a good sign.

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

Future Diary (Mirai Nikki)

(26 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Twelve people receive on their cellphone an electronic diary of future events affecting them. (They can of course change events, causing everyone to get updates.) The goal of the game is to kill all the others (destroying their phone also works). Good luck !

Adapted from a manga ; there was a short OVA several months back that was basically a trailer testing the waters.


Yukiteru Amano, our loner misanthropic protagonist. Quite baffled and creeped out by the whole thing, obviously. He’s got a random talent for throwing darts (and always carries some), which of course comes handy before the episode even ends. He’s player “First”.

Deus Ex Machina, the Norio Wakamoto-voiced game-master. Yukiteru used to think of his as a figment of his imagination, an imaginary friend to talk with when he’s lonely, but there’s clearly something else at work here. He’s accompanied by a tiny sidekick, Murumuru, who does the hands-on stuff such as delivering the phone diaries. Whether either of them are “real” remains a mystery so far.

Yuno Gasai, the “Second” player, who happens to be an honor student in Yukiteru’s class. On the one hand, he’s lucky to have her to watch his back. On the other hand, her attachment to him is quite creeping indeed (he’s not far from the truth when he calls her a stalker). Either the diaries don’t all work the same, or she’s been able to hack hers a bit, because it shows events of Yukiteru’s life instead of hers.

“Third” (I’m not sure we’re given a name), a serial-killer who’s been on a rampage in a neighborhood. Him getting a diary is mostly unrelated to his killings (aside from the players all being sociopaths to some degree). He targets Yukiteru, who manages to destroy his phone (and thus kill him) with Yuno’s help.

Deus Ex Machina assembles a call conference between all the players at the end of the episode to explain the rules (er, shouldn’t he have done that a bit earlier), and so we get a quick glimpse at the 9 other players… although their appearances are scrambled and he takes care to only address them by codenames. (Yukiteru clearly recognizes Yuno, though ; the scrambling doesn’t look very efficient if you already know the player.) DEM names “First” as the lead competitor (what with having already killed Third), which is a nasty way of painting a target on his back.

Production Values

Perfectly okay. I quite like the CG design for Deus Ex Machina and the “imaginary world”, which both look properly otherworldly.

What did I think of it ?

Um. The storytelling is a bit choppy, but there’s a decent plot hook here. The premise obviously makes no sense whatsoever, but the series is self-aware enough to overcome this. (I especially like the post-ED scene that shows how Murumuru gave Third his diary ; it’s hilarious and has impeccable comedic timing.) It’s certainly got atmosphere, and I’m intrigued by how much of a sociopath Yuno is. If the show manages not to fall into a routine of each player attacking our protagonists in a row, and finds clever ways to abuse the diaries, it could be quite fun.

via [In which I review] New anime, Fall 2011 – Page 7.

Mobile Suit Gundam AGE

(50 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Gundam for kids. The world is under attack from Unknown Enemies (sic), the good guys’ only hope are their awesome mecha.


Flit, our generic teenage protagonist. His mother conceived the mecha and gave him the key when she died in an attack several years ago ; which is very helpful when the official pilot gets injured during today’s attack and he can jump into the cockpit.

Emily, his generic love interest. If she has a personality, or an actual purpose in the plot, she hides it well so far.

There are other characters, but to be honest I can’t be bothered listing them. They’re the usual stereotypes : the officer in charge, the old wacky mechanist, the heroic actual pilot…

Production Values

The character designs obviously hark back to some sort of cross between Tezuka and Matsumoto, but I can’t say I’m convinced it works. It certainly doesn’t help assuaging the blandness of the whole thing.

The mecha fights do look nice, though. It’s Sunrise, after all.

What did I think of it ?

Yawn. The plot is boring, the characters are bland, the enemies are purposefully faceless, and the artstyle does nothing for me.

Don’t bother with this one.

via [In which I review] New anime, Fall 2011 – Page 7.


(12ish episodes)

What’s it about ?

In this high school, the dorm only provides breakfast ; students have to fend for themselves for their two other meals. There’s apparently only the one supermarket around. As a result, the sales for bento are SERIOUS BUSINESS there.


You Sato, our loser male protagonist (of course voiced by Hiro Shimono). He gets beaten to a pulp before the OP, and several other times before the end of the episode. Fortunately, his parents believed in tough love, so he’s quite resilient. Anyway, he’s quite baffled by the whole thing (especially as lying in a pool of his blood isn’t good for his memory).

Hana Oshiroi, a weird girl who befriends Sato because… well, she’s about as terrible as him as far as managing to grab the cheap bento goes, and she’s a bizarre fetishist who’s disturbingly impressed by his ability to recover from injuries (the more critical his state, the more ecstatic she goes). I have some trouble reading her (is her attraction to him genuinely innocent or is she deceptively manipulative), which ain’t helped by her relationship with…

Ume Shiraume, the class rep. She’s very aggressive against Sato. Okay, he’s more than a bit rude to her, but the main point is that she doesn’t want him anywhere Oshiroi (to the point of kidnapping her when he isn’t looking) because… well, she doesn’t really explain herself.

Sen Yarizui, aka “the Ice Queen”, the Rei-clone. Completely unbeatable on the bento battlefield (her wire-fu acrobatics are quite impressive indeed). A second-year, she’s the head of the “loves of half-price bento” club, although so far she’s the only member (given the amount of garbage leftover from the previous year she carries around, presumably all the others graduated). She invites Sato to the club, maybe out of pity.

Production Values

Let’s not kid ourselves, the fanservice level is rather high… but refreshingly, there’s nary a panty shot in sight, the camera preferring to focus on the girls’ legs. Which is slightly different from the usual routine, I’ll admit.

The soundtrack comes courtesy of Taku Iwasaki, who indulges in his wilder tendencies (I’m reminded of some of his Soul Eater score). That’s always a plus for me, obviously.

What did I think of it ?

Hum. There’s definitely the risk of this degenerating into a generic harem comedy, but I quite liked how this first episode went. There’s some deliberately obtuse storytelling at work here, which could have been annoying but managed to give some depth and mystery to the characters. Granted, this could be because they’re random collections of diverging traits, but maybe they’ll actually emerge as complex personalities.

I’m trying not to keep my hopes up too much, but there’s some definite potential here.

via [In which I review] New anime, Fall 2011 – Page 6.


(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Fanservice harem series, combined with a panty-fighter plot.


Takeru, our perverted male lead. The big girls’ high school in his hometown has just turned co-ed (wait, again with that plot ?), so he enrolls thinking this is the perfect opportunity to score. The problem is that nobody told him this was actually an academy for magic fighters (cue impenetrable magibabble about “Maken” and “Elements”, whatever they are), and that things go a bit pear-shaped when he’s asked to participate in a demonstration during the entrance ceremony.

Haruko, Takeru’s childhood friend, vice-president of the student council and his dorm’s supervisor. Typical tsundere material, trying to maintain her composure and showing definite signs of jalousy when any other girl approaches Takeru.

Kodama, a girl who recognizes Takeru as her sworn enemy because he bears a weird tatoo (and not because she knows him or anything).

Inaho, another girl who rushes to save Takeru (before Haruko can intervene) and claims he’s her perfect partner. She then immediately moves into his room. Not to be left off, the other two immediately do the same. (It’s a big room.)

Production Values

Between the camera angles and the character designs, it’s physically impossible for the camera not to show any panties when it doesn’t focus on faces. Seriously, at least one shot in two features prominent panties. To say it’s gratuitous and distracting… would be completely missing the point of this series, really.

What did I think of it ?

Every season needs its terrible fanservice-fest, right ? Well this is Fall’s. The plot is stupid, the fight scenes don’t flow well because of the camera’s fixation on panties, and the characters range from the flat to the utterly loathsome (urgh, the main lead…). There’s nothing of interest whatsoever here, and the result is so contemptible it’s not even entertaining in its awfulness.

A strong contender for worst show of the season.

via [In which I review] New anime, Fall 2011 – Page 5.

I Don’t Have Many Friends (Boku ha Tomodachi ga Sukunai)

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Harem comedy, although the accent’s clearly more on the “comedy” side of the scale. Adaptation of a series of light novels (which are also known under the bizarre acronym of “Haganai“).

The premise : a group of loners decide to form a high school club together, because it’s the only way for them to get friends. Basically, think Haruhi Suzumiya without the paranormal aspect.


Kodaka, our male lead, and a transfer student since one month. Made the worst first impression EVER by arriving so late on his first day that it looked liked he was assaulting the teacher when he rushed into the classroom. It doesn’t help that he has natural halfbreed blonde hair ; everyone thinks he’s a delinquent. As a consequence, he has no friends.

Yozora, a taciturn girl with no friends. Kodaka surprises her alone in a classroom talking with her “air friend”, which is works about the same way as an air guitar (yes, it’s as pathetic as it sounds, although Kodaka doesn’t have much ground for criticism given that I’m pretty sure he did the same thing in one of his flashbacks). When she and Kodaka discuss their situation, and note that joining a club this late in the schoolyear won’t work to make friends. So she decides to create her own (with a coded message in the poster that explains exactly what the club is about), and forcefully enrolls Kodaka in it.

Sena, the first applicant, who also has no friends. This might seem surprising, considering she’s beautiful, has great grades, is super-awesomely athletic, and the daughter of the school’s owner ; the problem is that all the boys become complete sycophants around her, and all the girls hate her for exactly the reasons stated above. This includes Yozora, who does her best to try and deny her entrance into the clubroom.

Presumably, more characters are going to join shortly, if the credits sequences and the OVA are any indication.

Production Values

Wait, does this share a character designer with Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko ? *Checks* Indeed it does ; I knew I’d recognized this way of depicting girls’ arousal/sexyness/blushing/whatever-it-is. Anyway, this looks perfectly okay, but visuals aren’t really the point.

What did I think of it ?

I didn’t came into this expecting much (especially after the ultra-confusing, in-media-res OVA with inexplicable Index cameo), but this surprised me by how genuinely funny it was. The characters display actual wit, and have great chemistry together. The comedic timing is impeccable. It’s also surprisingly light on romance so far ; the focus is clearly on the characters’ psychology and their interplay. This pleases me.

A very pleasant surprise.

via [In which I review] New anime, Fall 2011 – Page 4.