Naruto SD – Rock Lee & His Ninja Friends was better than I expected. It’s thoroughly accessible, providing enough exposition about the setting (“teams of apprentice ninjas get various tasks to perform as part of their training”), the main character’ shtick (“Rock Lee is an apprentice ninja who can’t do any ninjutsu”) or whatever guest star happens to be passing (such as what Naruto can do). For someone like me who barely knows anything about the Naruto universe, this was very welcome.
Now, is this actually worth watching ? Let’s not get carried away. It’s mildly funny, but some of the running gags were getting tired even before the end of the second of the two skits in this episode. (Even Tenten herself is getting bored of always going “there’s no way anyone’s going to fall for Lee’s incredibly stupid plan… wait, it worked ?”) Also, the first skit relies heavily on poo jokes.
One episode was enough for me.
I was pleasantly surprised by Here Comes the Black Witch! (Kuromajo-san ga Toru!!). I’m not a big fan of anime in short formats, but this is a longer one (7 minutes), and properly paced for it. The premise is simple enough (middle-school occult fangirl invokes a demon by mistake, who’s going to teach her how to become a Witch whether she wants it or not), but it manages to get some good jokes out of it (our heroine MUST clean her room everyday… because leaving any hair or skin behind makes malicious voodoo body control possible).
This looks like a fun little gag show (and it’s not like this season promises many of these). I’m willing to give it at least a few more episodes to see whether it stays funny.
Some thoughts on more short series I won’t be making full reviews of :
Gakkatsu (“Homeroom”) is very bizarre indeed. The abrasive class rep organizes a debate about some inane topic (today : “what’s the name of that bump on your arm that’s equivalent to the ankle ?”), except she discards any argument she doesn’t like. It’s rapid-fire comedy building to an utterly stupid conclusion, but I’m not sure I actually find it funny. I’ll need a couple more episodes to decide.
Yurumates 3Dei has no 3D whatsoever, it’s just that there were two OVAs before this series ; fortunately, this looks like a fresh start. Unfortunately, this takes most of its three minutes to establish the premise (a condo house in the suburbs of Tokyo where former high school students go to prepare another go at college entrance exams ; there’sno privacy whatsoever and the place looks a bit run-down) and the characters don’t get much depth. I was vaguely interested in the subject matter, but it doesn’t look like it’ll be going anywhere interesting (and even Acchi Kocchi looks more satisfying as far as 4-panel gag manga adaptations go).
Sequel watch !
As it turns out, I won’t be making a full review of Saki: Achiga-hen – Episode of Side-A. It’s more of the same from the original : cute girls with little personality playing mahjong as though it was calvinball. It makes a stab at building drama around the formation of an underdog club, but it falls flat due to the dullness of the writing. And that’s when it doesn’t just go for utter stupidity (actual dialogue : “wait, you’ve been cleaning this unused club room alone for two years on the vague hope we’d come back ?”). Also, given Saki‘s sluggish pace, I really doubt these people can get to the national level within 12 episodes.
Fate / Zero is back after three months’ break, and jumps straight back to where it left. Frankly, there’s no point in starting watching it now, you’ll want the 13 episodes of setup to have a hope in figuring out what’s going on.
Phi Brain S2 didn’t even take a week’s break, but it does go out of its way to reintroduce the supporting cast, the premise and the first season’s relevant events so that it can be a good jumping on point. Since the evil POG organization has been comprehensively dismantled by now, we’re getting a new set of villains to challenge the cast with more stupidly dangerous puzzles. Since they’re already more personality and charisma (hello, Hiroshi Kamiya and Tomokazu Sugita !) than the POG, I’m not complaining. This looks as fun as ever, so I’m in for the ride.
Okay, I’ll be using my “no reviews of sequels” escape clause and skip writing a full review of Eureka Seven Ao. Not because I was lost or anything (I didn’t see the original, but that’s no obstacle to understanding the gist of the plot here), but because the first episode bored me to sleep. Neither the flat characters, nor the rather generic events happening to them gave me any reason to care. Sure, it looks good, but I just found it very dull, and thus can’t summon any energy to cover it in any more detail.