Hmm. For some reason Karen Senki wasn’t even on my checklist. I can’t even find any hint it’s actually airing in Japan. But hey, it’s at the very least a Japanese co-production by the creators of Sakura Wars, and Crunchyroll is streaming it, so close enough for a token mention in this thread.
This is quite an odd series. For one, it’s 12 half-length episodes. For two, it’s full-CG. And for three, I can’t tell whether the plot being so disjointed and making no sense whatsoever is intentional.
It follows the adventures of Karen, who wages an essentially single-woman war against robots, who have taken over society and killed her cute young sister. (Or so she claims ; the flashbacks show nothing of the sort.) But the robots’ rule doesn’t seem that drastic, as everyone else seems to be carrying on normally, aside from whenever they have to deal with the collateral damage of Karen’s battles. Her being randomly attacked by killer-bots seems to be the exception, not the rule. One of her associates seems perfectly fine having a robot lover. And frankly, Karen just doesn’t sound entirely sane.
Or this may just be because the series as a whole is an excuse to string along elaborate action sequences. Now, they’re quite well-directed ; the problem isn’t so much that they’re hard to follow, but that they don’t fit with their context. But the real issue here is that the actual character animation is goddarn awful. People don’t move that way ! They can emote decently, but just about anything else about them is awkward. This is massively distracting, and doesn’t help the series’ case.
I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt, and a second episode. But I dread it’s going to test my patience quickly.
Anyway, let’s say a few words on I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying (Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken). It’s a series of shorts adapting a 4-panel gag manga series. Basically, it’s about a wife being flummoxed by her husband’s ultra-otaku ways. It’s mildly funny, but most of these jokes have already been done to death, and you often wonder why those two even got married in the first place. (That’s actually addressed immediately, but her reasoning is more than a little evasive.) This is a perfectly inoffensive show, but I doubt it’ll hold my attention for long unless it gets significantly better soon.
As it turns out, I just can’t make a proper review of Fate/stay Night – Unlimited Blade Works. Too much of my viewing experience was influenced by my foreknowledge from the DEEN series & movie, as well as Fate/Zero. It’s not like I can remember exactly who’s a Master (and of which Servant), especially as we’re in a different route and things might change around a bit, but I still know more than a few incoming twists that make it impossible to offer a “virgin” preview. (And I do have doubts on whether the series is aimed at anyone but people who’ve already seen either or both of these previous shows.)
Still, this is a good start. Way less infodumpy than Fate/Zero, and with some actual impressive battles right off the bat in this opening double-length episode. It helps a lot that it features Rin as a protagonist ; as someone who actually has a clue what’s going on, but not the details of who she’s fighting, she offers a more interesting and proactive perspective than Shirou did the first time around.
So far, so good. I was wondering whether I had lost interest in the franchise, but this looks fun enough to be worth watching.
Mysterious Joker (Kaitou Joker) might be at least partially to blame for my sleepiness. It’s a kids’ show about a quirky Gentleman Thief… and if you’re wondering what’s the difference with Magic Kaitou, it’s the targeted age group : this show aims much lower. All the characters are highly annoying and SHOUTING all the time, the jokes fall flat, and I literally couldn’t follow the plot because I was falling asleep every couple of minutes. Something about the protagonist recruiting a “ninja” fanboy kid ? I don’t care at all, and it really doesn’t help that another show with similar themes which is superior in every way is airing concurrently. Pass.
Also falling flat : The Circumstances in My Home’s Bathtub (Orenchi no Furo Jijo). Now, this type of series of shorts based on 4-panel gag manga often have the problem of only delivering the same joke over and over, never really amounting to anything. Here, the issue is that I can’t even see the joke. Dude brings a merman to his bathtub by mistake, and that’s pretty much it. They don’t even have much banter. I just don’t get it.
Sometimes I’m baffled by weird gimmicky series of shorts. Such as Hi☆sCoool! SeHa Girls, where anthropomorphic personalizations of Sega’s consoles enter a bizarre dedicated school ; it’s mostly an excuse to string along “nostalgic” allusions that most often fly completely other my head (as I was more of a Nintendo fan). It’s a better use of full CG animation than we usually get for these, but it’s still a niche gag series where I’m not part of the audience.
Oh, and since I’m pressed for time, I’m going to quickly skip over Gundam Build Fighters TRY : long story short, it’s very promising, doesn’t require any knowledge of the first season thanks to a time jump and a different cast (although Mr Ral still makes a cameo), and I’m pleased to see it has the girl as a true fighter and the leader of the team.
No full review for Ronja the the Robber’s Daughter, as as I fell asleep watching the first episode and don’t care to give it another try. This Ghibli adaptation of a Swedish fantasy book is just very, very dull, and the uninspiring full-CG animation doesn’t help. (Those characters emote way too exaggeratedly for my tastes.) Don’t care, won’t watch any more.
Bonjour Sweet Love Pâtisserie has a completely different problem : it’s a generic shoujo “male harem” romance show that barely gets to breathe in the 5 minutes or so of screentime per week it gets. As a result, all the characters are walking clichés, and the “glamourous baking academy” setup feels completely artificial. Not really worth your time, this one.