Winter 2011 capsules

A few words on the first episode of the second season of Kimi ni Todoke… Well, it’s actually “Episode 0”, for an obvious reason : it’s a recap of the first season.

Now, there was a truly awful recap episode in the middle of the first season, bringing nothing new to the table and saddled with a tedious and downright bizarre Greek chorus. But this is different : after all, it’s been nearly a year since I watched all this, so I don’t mind the plot refresher.

And moreover, the whole thing is from the point of view of Ume “Kurumi” Kurumizawa, Sawako’s unlucky bitchy rival for Kazehaya’s affections. While I don’t think we learn anything new here, it’s a nice change from Sawako’s viewpoint. And I admit I loved the gag around Kurumi’s Death Note.

On the other hand, there is the slight issue that Kurumi’s such an egotist that we barely get any insight into any of the other characters… and moreover, it completely skips the whole Chizuru/Ryuu thing, in which she had no involvement. But presumably all this is going to be covered in the series proper if needed.

The new OP & ED are nothing to write home about, and certainly less epic than the originals. I did get a chuckle out of the implication of Ayane/Pin in the OP, though.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2010-2011 – Page 4.

I’m not going to do a full review of the Supernatural – The Animation series of OVAs, but here are my thoughts on the first episode : it’s perfectly okay, but I’m not sure I’m going to keep watching. You can really see the “standard American TV series” setup (two brothers on a road trip investigating weird stuff in a new location each episode). The two leads have good chemistry, it’s got a decent sense of style, and it’s pretty good at what it does (paranormal thriller). On the other hand, the open-endedness of the premise (it adapts “the first two seasons of the TV show”, plus various original stuff) makes it clear there’ll be no real resolution in those OVAs.

Still, if I was more interested in the genre, I’d probably give it more of a chance, but I’m already watching too much stuff.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2010-2011 – Page 28.


I’m horribly late as is on most of this stuff, so I’ll keep it brief.

Hen Zemi #1 (of 2) (“Abnormal Physiology Seminar”) is a prelude (or whatever) to a full TV series airing next spring. The premise is that a normal college girl attends a special course about “sexual perversion” (for credit, I presume), and gets tons of ludicrously embarrassing assignments from it. And that’s without going into the six other weirdoes attending the class or the very creepy teacher supervising it.

It’s actually better than it sounds – the fanservice could be much worse, Kana Hanazawa is as adorable as ever as the lead, and I’m all for a series that doesn’t demonize bizarre sexual quirks as long as they’re consensual (in other words, it’s miles better than MM!).

The problem is that it’s “nearly funny”, which doesn’t quite cut it. I did smile here and there, but that’s it. It may yet improve, so I’ll try getting the other OVA (out within a couple of weeks) and keep an open mind for the TV series, but I’m not too optimistic.

Mirai Nikki (“Future Diary”) is a 9-minute-long trailer testing waters for a potential future series. The gimmick is that our high school protagonist finds on his cell phone a detailed diary of his next 90 days (given by enigmatic paranormal entities). Various other people were given the same thing, and the whole thing is a game, won by the last person standing.

On these grounds, I’m sold. It’s an interesting premise, the atmosphere is built appropriately (it definitely feels very creepy), and I loved how dysfunctionally the relationship with the obligatory love-interest-with-a-diary-too started off. This reminds me of the best aspects of Death Note, although it’s different enough to be its own thing.

Yuri Seijin Naoko-san (“Lesbian Citizen Naoko-san”) is a 6-minute-long adaptation of a gag manga about… I’m not sure, actually. An sarcastic alien maid stalking a high-school girl and sniffing the skirts of any passing girl because she claims that’s the only way to get good reception from the stars. Also, she can randomly summon trains in the middle of a little street.

This is a very baffling short indeed. The key thing, though, is that it’s not funny at all, and that’s what kills it for me.

Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu: Matsuri #1 (of 2) is a bridge OVA before a proper second season next summer. It’s basically the same as ever, with a “cultural festival” backdrop to riff on the usual recurring jokes. It’s good fun, and I loved the multiple endings, but don’t bother with this unless you watched and liked the first season.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2010-2011 – Page 29.

Suite Precure

What’s it about ?

The baddies are trying to replace the Melody of Happiness with the Melody of Sorrow, but the good guys in charged stalled them by dispersing the notes of the Melody. It’s up to two random schoolgirls to save the day !


Our heroines, Hibiki the slightly tomboyish sports player and Kanade the honor student/sweet-maker. They have a long history together, but they’ve been squabbling over petty matters for quite a while. Interestingly, it’s Kanade who has the worst temper of the two, although they’re both good at saying the wrong thing and regretting it later. Those two have great chemistry in the relatively little screentime they get.

The good guys consist of Queen Exposition Aphrodite, who seems to vaguely rule over stuff, and the cat-thing Hummy, who’s dumb as a sack of hammers.

The bad guys consist of evil lord Mephisto (so camp I have trouble taking him seriously as a threat), a trio of singing henchmen that are already horribly irritating despite barely getting three lines in the whole episode, and finally Siren, Hummy’s evil counterpart (who can actually transform into a girl). Unlike everyone else in the last two paragraphs, I actually like Siren, as she sounds like the only competent and intelligent person among all those morons. That’s charisma for you.

Production Values

Not very good, I fear. Side characters appear lifeless when they don’t speak, and the Big Bad’s design is so ridiculous it’s laughable.

The OP and ED aren’t very catchy, which is kinda disappointing in a music-themed series. And the ED’s gimmick of having CG models of the girls dance in rhythm slides deep into uncanny valley – it’s even more disturbing than the Heartcatch version.

Overall Impression

You know, this ain’t so bad. It was a somewhat ballsy move to have the first half of the episode devoted to the overall plot and the two heroines only introduced later on (especially as the overall plot is pretty crap, let’s be honest). But it’s the little things that make it work : Hibiki and Kanade feel like “real” lapsed friends, and Siren’s a promising mini-boss.

The lack of scope of the main plot is worrying, and I’m not sure about the setting (everyone seems to be living in the same partly-magical world, which makes me wonder about the “routine” episodes). But I’m probably keep following it for a few more episodes to get a better sense of it.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2010-2011 – Page 27.

Afterschool Pleiades (Houkago no Pleiades)

(6-minute-long webisodes, although since they’re released 4 at a time it’s a lot like a standard 24-minute episode)

What’s it about ?

Magic-powered schoolgirls battle against a wrong-headed prettyboy for fragments of an interstellar drive.


Subaru, our naive newcomer viewpoint character. A bit slow on the uptake, but not too annoying. Seems naturally gifted for this, to the point of randomly stumbling into the hammer-space rooms where all this stuff is happening (which surprises everyone else). The fourth episode gives a decent reason why.

Aoi, Subaru’s “friend” and de facto leader of the girls (technically the “Club President” is the alien blob whose spaceship they are trying to recover the engine’s pieces for, but she seems more or less in charge). Very reluctant to bringing Subaru into all this stuff she had hidden from her, but you know how these things go.

The three other girls don’t rise above stereotypes : there’s a monotone one dressing in witch’s clothes for some reason, a kind one and an energetic one.

Minato, the guy, was hit by a fragment (or is it an actual star ?) two years ago and hasn’t been right in the head ever since. He wants to gather the engine pieces for his own purposes. Which makes him the de facto baddie.

Production Values

It looks more or less okay, but there are some bits of limited animation here and there that jumped to my eyes. No OP ; the ED is inoffensive fluff playing to production sketches.

Overall Impression


I have to hand it to GAINAX : they find new ways to troll every day. This time, it’s not so much the actual contents of the show (a by-the-numbers magical girl series), than the announcement that this is a co-production with SUBARU, of all people. I have absolutely no clue why, apart from the protagonist sharing the company’s name, and the logo briefly appearing at the start. If there’s any product placement here, I completely missed it.

Anyway, taken at face value, it’s a very generic show without much to recommend to it. The setting is slightly puzzling, but that’s it. I can’t find any clue only whether these four episodes are it all, or if there’s any more planned. I know I won’t bother to seek it out.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2010-2011 – Page 25.


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.

Is this a Zombie ? (Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka ?)

What’s it about ?

Our ordinary high school student protagonist stopped being ordinary a month ago, when he was murdered by a serial killer. Fortunately, he’s been resurrected as some sort of zombie and can continue investigating. Not that his search goes anywhere, considering all the weirdness he encounters.


Aikawa, our protagonist. Surprisingly laid back about the whole zombie thing, although since it gives him super-strength and the ability to recover from any injury, it’s somewhat understandable (he does have problems with sunlight, though). Mistakes any girl he meets for a tsundere, which means that he misinterprets abuse (tsun) for affection (dere).

Eucliwood Hellscythe, the Necromancer who revived him. Has been staying at his home doing nothing ever since. Communicates only through her notebook.

Haruna-chan, a chainsaw-wielding magical girl he crashes into midway through the episode. Comes from a magical world to exterminate various creatures (that gives her “points”), and thus a bit confused by modern technology (i.e., cell phones). Dear gods she’s annoying, especially since she spends half the episode either flashing her panties or downright naked. (Seriously, she first appears crotch-first.)

Production Values

Very average, as you’d expect from Studio DEEN. The OP’s a thing of beauty, but marred by a terrible song. The ED’s a nice joke.

Overall Impression

More than a bit mixed. Aikawa’s an awesome protagonist whose condition is fodder for tons of fun jokes, the comedic timing is pretty good, I like the very weird setting… But Haruna-chan is a black hole of terribleness that saps my enjoyment of the show whenever she’s onscreen. (On the other hand, it’s true the final scene wouldn’t work as well without the constant fanservice around her.)

I’ll probably continue watching though, hoping Haruna-chan becomes less obnoxious after awhile.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2010-2011 – Page 13.

Dragon Crisis!

What’s it about ?

Our protagonist is talked by his crazy cousin into stealing a powerful artefact from the mob. Except it turns out to be a pyrokinetic young girl ; in other words, a dragon. And she’s taken a liking into him.


Ryuuji, our spineless protagonist. Ordinary high school student. No personality whatsoever.

Eriko, his cousin. Fancies herself as an artefact hunter, although she’s not got the official license to do it (apparently there’s a governmental organisation in charge of such things). So enthusiastic about it that she comes off as more than a bit crazy (and quite greedy).

Rose, the dragon-girl. Starts with a one-word vocabulary (“Ryuuji !”), although she learns a few more words by the episode’s end. Very possessive of him. She reminded me of Index, to tell the truth.

Misaki, his painfully shy classmate who is completely unable to find the nerve to make a move. Mostly there for a bit of exposition.

Production Values

This is actually in the upper range of Studio DEEN productions, with enough budget to make the action sequences work and a good handle of atmosphere. I’m also inordinately fond of the background music, despite its complete lack of subtlety.

The OP feels appropriately epic, while the ED is a fun little joke.

Overall Impression

I was pleasantly surprised by this. The first half is a lot of fun thanks to Eriko driving the action, as she’s gloriously insane. Unfortunately, it slows down a bit in the second half, as she progressively loses control of the plot. I’m really hoping for more insanity and not too much rom-com in the next few episodes, but I fear I’m going to be disappointed…

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2010-2011 – Page 13.

Level E

What’s it about ?

An average high school student’s routine is suddenly disturbed when a self-proclaimed alien crashes into his pad.


Yukitaka Tutsui, our protagonist. Fresh coming to this country town because he’s been scouted by the baseball team of the local high school, and it’s as good an excuse as any to start living on his own. Very annoyed by this freeloader who just. won’t. go. away.

The alien doesn’t actually get a name in this episode, but I’m told he’s called “Prince”. Which is appropriate, considering he looks like a blonde long-haired bishonen. He’s partly amnesiac and a bit in a bind since the local scientists are investigating his crashed spaceship. Seems like a master of offscreen teleportation (you know, the kind where you lock him outside and the next moment he’s just behind you). Despite his deadpan annoyingness, he’s showed to have a heart near the end of the episode – he gets injured rescueing a kitten from car traffic !

Miho Edogawa, the pretty girl next door, who just happens to be the daughter of the chief scientist investigating the alien spacecraft, of course.

Production Values

This looks really good, with some slick animation and pretty scenery porn backgrounds. The OP is awesome, with a fun little rock number, a very nice use of colors, and some good comedic timing. On the other hand, the ED’s crap.

Overall Impression


On the one hand, there’s a lot to like – some good jokes with impeccable comedic timing, nice production values. But it feels like it should be more, if you see what I mean ? Some of the jokes feel repetitive, and it feels a bit slow as a result. It needs more meat.

I feel like I should like it more, somehow.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2010-2011 – Page 12.


What’s it about ?

A year ago, Logan met a Japanese woman called Mariko who disappeared soon after. Now, he learns that she comes from a crime family and is to get into an arranged marriage for their sakes. Logan of course rushes in to prevent it…


Logan, the Wolverine. You may remember those awful previews from a year or so ago ; thankfully his character design looks much better now (although it’s more Hugh Jackman than the comic version). Anyway, the same character as usual : metal claws, healing factor and prone to berserker rage. In plain clothes for the whole episode, and I doubt that’ll change.

Mariko Yoshida, his (former) sweetheart. Archetypical Damsel In Distress ™. To be crude, she’s just a macguffin here.

Shingen Yoshida, Mariko’s father. Crime lord, with impressive fencing skills. You know the time.

Hideki Kurohagi, Mariko’s new fiancĂ©. The current ruler of the lawless city of Madripoor. Interrupts Logan’s duel with Shingen by shooting the former in the back with some anti-healing-factor gun. No class whatsoever, then.

Asano, a Tokyo police detective who became friends with Logan 10 years ago. Just now rescued from AIM goons by the same in New York, he’s our chief provider of exposition. He and his unit have set up a full-scale surveillance operation around the Yoshida mansion, but they lack the legal authority to just bust in.

Production Values

This actually looks pretty good, although this may just be my getting used to this artstyle from Iron Man. On the other hand, the women still look weird – especially Mariko. Also, I’m quite liking the soundtrack, it reminds me of Death Note‘s in a good way.

The OP is average. The ED, on the other hand, annoyed me by switching musical styles twice. Urgh.

Overall Impression

This is actually better than I expected. While we’re deep into the usual clichĂ©s of the “Wolverine in Japan” subgenre (believe me, it’s well-trodden territory in the comics), it tackles them with gusto and energy. It also looks fully plot-driven, instead of the “Zodiac mecha of the week” structure of Iron Man ; I’m not sure there’s enough plot in there for 12 episodes, but I’m interested in seeing how it’ll play out. This episode certainly crams quite a lot in (the plotline is nominally adapted from an 80s miniseries, but we’re way more than 1/12th through it).

Anyway, a fun popcorn action show.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2010-2011 – Page 12.


What’s it about ?

The Demon Lord is too busy playing videogames and attending random parties to eradicate mankind, so he sends his infant son to do it in his place. The baby attaches himself to a brash high school delinquent. Hijinks ensue.


Oga, our protagonist. A top dog in his high school filled with delinquents, despite being only a freshman. The classic Jerk With A Heart Of Gold (c). Prone to semi-delusional epic narration. Having the same voice actor as TTGL‘s Kamina does wonders for his personality.

Beelzebub, the baby demon. You don’t want to make him cry, considering he zaps whoever’s around when that happens.

Furuichi, Oga’s sidekick. The poor dude’s chief role is to complain about the ludicrousness of the plot and get screwed over repeatedly by Oga.

Hildegarde, Beelzebub’s demon caretaker. After some over-the-top fighting to try and take Beelzebub back, she acknowledges that he’s attached himself to Oga and sticks around to supervise his upbringing as the scourge of mankind. Will not take “no” for an answer. Wonderfully deadpan. (… most of the time…)

Production Values

This looks perfectly alright for a gag series. Oga’s constant stream of scary faces has great comedic timing, and I like the occasional thicker lines around the characters. On the other hand, the soundtrack is terrible canned cheese.

The OP’s a joke that could get on my nerves after a while, and the ED’s just forgettable.

Overall Impression

This… is actually pretty funny. I was worried a bit at the beginning, as Beelzebub zapping punks was getting old after ten minutes, but it starts clicking after Hildegarde shows up. The banter between the three leads is delightful.

Now, with that said, do I see myself following this for 50+ episodes ? I fear the joke might stale after a while, and there’s a risk it’d devolve into generic fighting shonen crap. I’ll give it some more episodes, though.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2010-2011 – Page 11.