Winter 2016 Capsules

Sushi Police has exactly one joke : an elite police task force regulating the quality and authenticity of sushi. Unfortunately, the execution is rather dismal : few of the gags land, and the animation style is an acquired taste at best. You probably shouldn’t bother seeking it out.


Old Man & Marshmallow is an office romantic-comedy about a middle manager who loves marshmallow. One of his underlings keeps teasing him about him in a way that makes it clear she’s flirting with him ; he’s oblivious. Nothing great here, but it’s paced decently, mildly funny, and rather okay overall. I may stick with it.


Oh, and I’m giving up on Assassination Classroom. The first season had huge pacing and consistency issues ; mostly, it wasn’t that funny. So this new season really had to hit it out of the park to keep my interest… It didn’t. It’s a below average episode with nothing particularly interesting happening ; it might have worked partway through the season as a breather, but something much more punchy was needed at this stage.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Winter 2016 – Page 2


I’ve given up on writing a full review for Divine Gate. This is an adaptation of a smartphone game where characters aligned with six different elements fight against each other. The show makes it darnedest to try and build up my interest into the token plot and make it look visually interesting, but I just don’t care. I just can’t summon the energy to take interest into whatever is going on here, and the characters certainly aren’t appealing enough to carry the show.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Winter 2016 – Page 3

Sequel watch !

Durarara!!x2 had a very good start for its last third. Most of it is taking stock of the story so far, as Celty desperately tries to get an explanation of what the heck is going on and WHAT ARE ALL THOSE PEOPLE DOING IN HER HOME, but superbly executed. Izaya & Shizuo also get good scenes, so I’m perfectly content with this.

Koyomimonogatari are the latest instalment of the -monogatari franchise, this time around as shorts only available on a mobile-app. (So ready your eyepatch if you want to watch it.) It adapts a bunch of short side stories, so it’s not that great a loss if you miss it. “Koyomi Stone”, the first one, is set before Bakemonogatari and fun enough, as an insight into Ararararagi’s early character development.

By the way, Snow White with the Red Hair is still as fun and engaging as before the break, it’s the one bright spot on Mondays.

I’ve Had Enough of Being a Magical Girl is basically a similar premise to Nurse Witch Komugi R, i.e. a magical girl parody, except as 3-minute shorts and actually half-way engaging. Nothing to write much home about, though.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Winter 2016 – Page 4

Fall 2015 capsules

Also deserving a mention is Lupin III: L’avventura Italiana, the first new proper Lupin III TV series in ages. As it turns out, the franchise has been very popular in the Italian market, so why not make a new series that’s actually set there for maximum pandering ? (It’s already been airing over there for the last couple of months.)

This is actually better than it sounds, since Lupin III’s shtick involves globe-trotting as a matter of course anyway. I thus have no issue whatsoever for his gang to show up in Italy for a random caper, and then stick around there for a while. The token new Italian semi-regular character does bring some added spice into the well-worn character dynamics, too.

This is the point where I have to admit I haven’t watched much Lupin III at all ; it got big well before my time and I’ve always found the franchise’s sheer size a bit intimidating. I do plan on checking out the highlights such as Castle of Cagliostro in due time, but so far my exposure is mostly limited to The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, which was very atypical indeed.

This series is a much more conventional entry point, with pleasant kid-friendly adventures that have enough of an edge to entertain adults too. And heck, I’m a sucker for heist shows anyway, so I have every reason to watch this. (Miyuki Sawashiro voicing a very delicious Fujiko is the cherry on the cake.)

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2015


Hacka Doll the Animation is a series of shorts adapting… a news phone app ? Seriously ? It’s certainly not a ringing endorsement, as it stars a trio of bumbling AIs who completely fail to be of any use to their hapless owner. Which is actually mildly funny, all told, as they’ve got good comedic timing together. Very dumb, but entertaining enough for me to give it another episode. (After all, it’s only 8 minutes a week.)


Oh, and Noragami is back ! It’s still as stylish as ever (that god-tier Taku Iwasaki score !), although this episode spends a lot of time recapping the premise, the main characters, and the basics of the Hato/Bishamon feud which is apparently going to take center stage. But so far, so good.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2015


Lovely Muco (Itoshi no Muco) are 12-minute shorts about the daily life of the titular dog, Muco. There were actually two previous anime series adapting this manga, but only as 2-minute shorts padding the schedule ; this is a back-to-basics reboot that requires no previous knowledge. And in any case, the OP sequence displays just about everything you’d want to know about the character dynamics (including from the cast who have yet to show up).

It’s a very simplistic, family-friendly show about Muco being a cute dog, and the communication failures with her laid-back master. It’s mildly entertaining, but I keep having the nagging feeling I’m at least two decades older than the target audience. The animation is very limited, but sells the jokes well enough for a gag show. And it certainly knows how to make a dog look expressive.


Kagewani are 8-minute horror shorts about a crypto-zoologist investigating monster sightings instead of, you know, actually teaching his college classes. But most of the episode is devoted to one of those “celebrity” monster hunters who’s busy faking one such sighting until things go very badly when his team encounter the real thing.

What makes this show stand out is the rotoscoped animation ; together with the overbearing colour filters and the nervous shakycam often at awkward angles, it gives off a strong “found footage” flavour. Unfortunately, it also looks like crap. (Which, I guess, completes the “found footage” look.) And frankly, it’s not particularly compelling, funny or scary ; it just doesn’t work for me at all.


K – Return of Kings if off to a rather mixed bag for its second season. It’s even more visually impressive than ever (how much budget do they spend on those super-kinetic fight scenes ?), although I’m getting tired of the camera switching to pervert mode whenever Awashima’s on screen. But the script seems intent on being as confusing as possible, starting off with an overly-long gratuitous fight scene that’s set before the first series, for some reason (as evidenced by the presence of the dude who got killed in the first episode), and then it switches without warning to the post-movie status quo. (Which, admittedly, isn’t very complicated ; “the gothloli is the new Red King, and the Greens are now attacking everyone and being jerks for some reason”.) Hopefully it’ll find its footing back soon enough.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2015 – Page 2


Young Kindaichi’s Casefile Returns Again has been off to a good start. Actually, I’m slightly weirded out that we start immediately on the trail of the recurring villain introduced at the end of last season (Kindaichi’s usually more about one-off mysteries than ongoing storylines), but it’s a good way to keep the stakes high, especially as the supporting cast are all there and have something to do. And, well, I have a sweet tooth for mysteries, so I’m all for this.


Speaking of which, Owarimonogatari opens with a double-length episode that’s basically a lovely done-in-one closed-room mystery. It’s awesome. And despite how much Ararararagi has become the weak link in this show over time, he’s actually quite fun here, as Ougi leaves him absolutely no room to fall back on his usual excesses. This was a very good opener indeed, and setting a high bar for the season.


Attack on Titan – Junior High is very, very stupid. It probably doesn’t make much sense unless you’ve watched the main series. (Or, heck, read the manga, if the Ymir/Krista material is any indication.) What it does right, though, is being at least mildly funny most of the time ; and it’s having a lot of funny playing with Sawano’s bombastic score and the original anime’s direction for maximum comedic effect. At least for one episode, the joke works.


Onsen Yousei Hakone-chan is a gag manga adaptation about a childlike hotsprings fairy meddling with teenagers’ love life. In three minutes it makes its point, namely that it’s the same romantic comedy beats I’ve already seen hundreds of time, without any particular spark. Pass.


Miss Komori Can’t Decline! (Komori-san wa Kotowarenai!), on the other hand, does manage to spin a few decent laughs out of its premise. Unfortunately, it looks like crap and barely lasts 2 minutes. Oh, well.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2015 – Page 2

Anime from 2000 : The Leftovers

Over the course of this project, there were a number of show I decided not to cover, or just couldn’t. Those were :

  • Sequels to earlier shows (and thus not NEW shows). There’s a few spin-offs I still chose to try and cover for significance reasons, but overall I skipped most of them.
  • A good number of kids’ shows that just weren’t available in any form (even in massacred English dubs). Those I had no option but to skip entirely.
  • Also, I didn’t do OVAs and movies. Sorry, FLCL.

So, here follows a list of everything I didn’t review :

#03 on the list is something called Mon Colle Knights, adapting some collectible cardgame. It’s the first of the many kids’ shows I just couldn’t get any hold of for this project. Not that I’m really heartbroken about it.

#05 is OH! Super Milk-Chan, a sequel to a 1998 comedy kids’ show.

#08 is Ojamajo Doremi #, the second season (out of four) of the magical girl franchise that eventually left way for Precure.

#10 is Digimon Adventure 02, which feels enough like a straight sequel of the original (unlike, say, Tamers) that I am not covering it.

#14 is Hidamari no Ki, an adaptation of a late Osamu Tezuka manga about the friendship between a samurai and a doctor in the Edo period. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a copy of even the first episode of it. A shame, as it sounds quite interesting.

#15 is Doki Doki Densetsu Mahoujin Guru Guru, a sequel to a 1994 kids’ show adapting a manga lampooning Dragon Quest-style RPGs. It actually sounds quite fun, but it’s outside the scope of this project.

#21 is Inspector Fabre (Fabre Sensei wa Meitantei), another kids’ show I couldn’t lay my hands on.

A few words on #22, Banner of the Stars. It’s basically part two of a trilogy of anime adaptations of a light novel series, so it’s outside the scope of this project. But I should note that it’s the weakest chunk of this S-F saga. Crest kept things close and personal to its lead couple ; Banner II also had a tight focus as they dealt with a prison planet. Banner, on the other hand, throws them in the middle of a massive military campaign, depriving them of agency and relevance in their own series. It’s got its moments, but I found it distinctly less enjoyable.

#23 is yet another unavailable kids’ show, Taro the Space Alien, adapting a children’s manga.

#28 is something called DinoZaurs: The Series, which is apparently a sequel to a few OVAs that were bundled with a toyline that’s also known as “DinoZone”. Anyway, I couldn’t find it, and I had no inclination to dig too much.

#29 is Medarot Damashii, the second season of the adaptation of the Medabots RPG videogame franchise.

#35 is Mr. Digital Tokoro, a full-CG-animated series of shorts (130 3-minute-long episodes) based on comedian Tokoro George. (A guy famous enough to lend his name to half a dozen Mahjong videogames ; he also dubs Homer Simpson.)
Frankly, this sounds dreadful, but I couldn’t find even one of them.

#43 is Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Children, an adaptation of that RPG franchise’s attempt at emulating the success of Pokémon, with simpler gameplay more accessible to kids. It got a sequel in 2002, adapting a further game (and apparently having a troubled production). Anyway, I couldn’t find it.

#44 would be Baby Felix, a spin-off from the old Felix the Cat cartoons (which were apparently popular enough in Japan). Again, I couldn’t find it.

I thought I had gotten my hands on #50, Dotto Koni-chan, but my copy has no subtitles. It’s a comedy kids’ show about kids messing around and getting into hijinks. It’s mostly notable for being animated by studio Shaft before they became SHAFT, and directed by Excel Saga‘s Nabeshin himself. It does look kinda fun.

#51 should be Pipopapo Patrol-kun, a kids’ show featuring a friendly neighbourhood cop that might have been educational if I could have laid hands on it.

Our final and 52nd entry would have been Suteki! Sakura Mama, a series of shorts I could find nearly no information about. A bit anticlimactic, eh ?

Gourmet Girl Graffiti (Koufuku Graffiti)

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of a food porn manga.


Ryou, our protagonist, is living mostly alone (with her aunt barely having time to check on her from time to time) as she prepares for her high school entrance exams. Her parents are working abroad, and her grandmother, with whom she lived and who taught her all her cooking recipes, died a bit ago. Understandably, she’s a bit depressed (although she puts on a brave face), and feels like she’s losing her cooking talent due to having nobody to cook for and eat with.

Kirin, her cousin “from the same grade” (but two heads smaller), who’s suddenly been “invited” to visit on weekends so she can attend cram school and prepare for Ryou’s art high school’s entrance exams. That didn’t go too well with Kirin’s parents, especially as she insulted her mom’s cooking in passing. (Sure, it’s poorly presented and generic, but still.) Conversely, she loves Ryou’s elaborate cooking, and Ryou enjoys the audience.

Presumably the cast’s size will increase later on, for example featuring Ryou’s classmates ; but for now, we’re focused on Ryou and Kirin getting to know each other.

Production Values

Despite “Chief Director” Akiyuki Shinbo and studio Shaft’s names being on the credits, this barely features any of their usual quirks. It just looks very good, with maybe some artful shot composition at times. Also, Ryou has a very erotic way of eating, for no discernible reason.

Overall Impression

That was… okay, I guess ? It’s not really what I wanted out of a Shaft series ; instead, it’s some gentle comfort food, appropriately enough. Nothing wrong with it, as slice-of-life series go, and at least I didn’t fall asleep watching it ; but there’s little here to really go out of your way for.

I’m giving it another episode, but it’s on the bubble.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Winter 2015 – Page 2.

Mekakucity Actors

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

This is an adaptation of the Kagerou Project, which started as a series of Vocaloid songs before being spun-off into light novels and manga series. (I’m not quite sure why the animated version gets a new title.)


Shintaro, our protagonist. He’s a shut-in NEET who hasn’t come out of his room for at least a year, and isn’t in any hurry to do it again. Unfortunately, he’s spilled some soda on his keyboard, and the inconveniently-timed holidays prevent any shipping for at least 5 days, so the agoraphobic has to go to the mall.

Ene, the computer program a “friend” installed on his computer a couple of years ago, and who just. won’t. shut. up. Show, you really shouldn’t tease me with a mute button for Kana Asumi if it doesn’t work. (I kid : her usual “bubbly exuberance” shtick is a perfect fit for the character, and she makes a good foil for Shintaro.) Also, she’s downloaded herself onto his smartphone, so she can follow him on his shopping trip. Did he think he could escape ?

Since this was a bit too uneventful, the mall is taken hostage by a group of criminals. Who’ve taken over the centralized security network of the place, and are very smug about it. I smell a theme. Now, if only someone had a super-computer-program on hand to wrestle control back from the thieves…

There’s a couple of weird guys in hoodies who like the look on Shintaro’s face, and offer to help untie him and provide a distraction. Presumably we’ll learn more about them next episode.

The episode opens on a weird flashback where a girl in a high school uniform talks to Shintaro. With both of them sitting on a giant clockwork mechanism. Hmmm…

Production Values

Head tilts ? Careful composition of shots that tell a whole story without the need for animation ? (And gratuitously gorgeous animation when it’s funny ?) Sprawling landscapes where the mad architect has overdesigned everything ? Random cinemascope format ? Non-realistic colours bordering on chiaroscuro ? That flashback ? I am shocked to see SHAFT & Shinbo’s names on the credits.

Overall Impression

This is SHAFT at its SHAFTiest : not only the overpowering style, but also the endless conversations and the recurrent themes (including the playful otaku-bashing). The good news is that it works : the setup is simple enough to avoid confusing the viewer, and the direction only adds depth to it. It certainly helps making Ene less irritating than she could be.

Moreover, it feels like the staff are having a lot of fun making this, and it’s communicative. (Unlike, say, Nisekoi, which is the perfect example of SHAFT on autopilot.) I’m game : bring it on.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2014 – Page 7.

Nisekoi (“False Love”)

(26ish episodes)

What’s it about ?

High school romantic comedy. (Adapted from a manga series.)


Raku, our male lead, wants to become a honest and productive member of society. That’s a bit hard when he’s the heir of a yakuza gang and there are dozens of henchmen expecting him to succeed his crimelord of a father. (For now, those are family-friendly mobsters whose only visible mischiefs are feuds with other gangs, but that may change later on.) They do respect his wishes for the time being, but they sure hope he’s gonna change his mind.

Kosaki, the nice girl in his class. It’s heavily hinted that she owns the key to the locket he exchanged with his childhood love 10 years ago, and she’s been testing waters in attempts to confirm that… but actually, that’s so obvious I’m expecting some kind of swerve.

Chitoge, the new half-American transfer student. It’s antipathy at first sight ; it doesn’t help that she has a terrible personality and accidentally stepped onto his face while jumping the wall into the school. They do mellow a bit after a while (an evolution nicely underlined by chapter titles progressively shifting from calling her “Monkey Girl” to her actual first name). On the other hand, they’re both taken aghast when their respective fathers order them to (at least pretend to) be lovers for three years, in order to broker peace between the two gangs. Hence the title.

Production Values

It’s impossible to forget Akiyuki Shinbo & studio SHAFT are at the helm here : weird angles for shots, editing used as punctuation, text hidden in the background, the trademark head tilts, some great use of colour… heck, even Kouki Uchiyama often sounds like he’s doing a Hiroshi Kamiya impression.

It helps that the show has enough budget to animate lavishly the rare actions sequences. Nice music, too.

Overall Impression

Let’s not mince words : this series’ key selling point is the presentation. The plot and characters are serviceable, and there are some good jokes, but it’d be instantly forgettable in lesser hands. I’ve seen an interview of the manga creator being delighted that SHAFT would adapt his series, and I can believe it. This is way better than it deserves, if the series is as pedestrian as a quick browse through a few pages lets me think.

But while this is certainly a great-looking (and -sounding) anime series, it doesn’t really add up to anything. It’s still a generic romantic comedy with a formulaic hook. It’s not like, say, Sankarea, whose impressive execution added tons of atmosphere and edge. We’re firmly into well-trodden territory here.

But hey, I’m such a Shinbo fanboy I’ve watched through aggressively terrible SHAFT series (hello, Maria+Holic !) ; there’s no way I’m skipping this. After all, it’s perfectly okay.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2014 – Page 5.

Winter 2013 capsules

First, let’s get a couple of shorts out of the way…

My Little Sister talks like an Osakan Mom (Boku no Imouto wa “Oosaka Okan”) surprisingly isn’t incest-bait, unlike the immense majority of series with “Imouto” in the (long-winded) title. Instead, it’s terrible in a completely different way : it features horrible cheap Flash animation and revolves around a “wow, the Kansai dialect as spoken by this girl is weird and kinda nonsensical” joke that’s mostly impenetrable to Western ears and doesn’t sound that funny to start with. Apparently it’s adapted from a language guidebook, which really shows (with “helpful” translation recaps explaining the jokes slowly all the time).

Inferno Cop is a weird little short series coming from Studio Trigger, aka the people behind Gurren Lagann, Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt and Redline. Alas, despite the pedigree this is objectively mindless garbage, with no budget whatsoever. Obviously this is part of the joke, but it’s not that funny. (Even P&Sw/G at its most poop-joke-obsessed lows had more depth and looked way better than this crap.)

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2013.

Anime shorts are hard to review. In some lucky cases, they’re so terrible it’s easy to dismiss them immediately (see above ; although Inferno Cop‘s second episode had such gonzo charm that I’m starting to reconsider it). But in some case, there’s so little content it’s hard to judge how they’ll end up going.

Case in point : Encouragement of Climb (Yama no Susume). It’s about a high school girl who used to love mountain climbing but has been traumatized by a bad fall ; one of her elementary school friends tries to take her back to her old hobby… and won’t take no for an answer. It’s actually quite a promising start : it’s got some decent animation (including a slightly jarring CG-background shot at the beginning that isn’t half-bad), the plot progresses at a good clip, and it’s got more than one joke. Nothing earth-shattering, but good enough to be worth watching.

I’m more wary about Mangirl. It’s a comedy about young women setting up a new manga magazine. The problem is that it’s not really funny ; the basic joke is that they’re terrible at it, but the show features random bursts of offscreen competence so that they can be in business for more than one episode. And if you’re interested in the behind-the-scenes of manga publishing, this looks much more superficial than, say, Bakuman (which is, you know, still airing).

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2013.

Ai Mai Mi is yet another series of shorts adapting some comedy 4-panel manga. It’s notionally about a high school manga club, but really the three title characters spend most of their time or acting out terrible jokes. At least Mangirl had a plot ; this is just unfunny, horrible-looking crap. Avoid.


I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Nekomogatari (Black) somewhere, now that I’ve watched the whole of it (the four episodes aired just before the New Year, but took a bit to get translated).

For those who aren’t aware of it, this is a prequel to 2009’s Bakemonogatari, a very peculiar mix of harem romance, supernatural horror, self-indulgent dialogue and Akiyuki Shinbo being weird for the hell of it. That was a very good show indeed (if only for being a visual masterpiece), but it’s not for everybody. Nisemonogatari, its sequel last year, was basically more of the same, with even better technical quality but also even more self-indulgent.

The question with Nekomonogatari (Black), like any prequel, is whether there’s any point to watching it, considering how the events of “the Cat incident in Golden Week” have already amply been described in the main series in its “Tsubasa cat” arc. I’ve actually rewatched those four episodes to make sure, and yes indeed Nekomonogatari (Black) does cover a lot of (until now) relatively unexplored territory. It helps that this is a lean narrative (by -monogatari standards), making its point very efficiently at a pace that never feels idle. And the visuals are as striking as they’ve ever been.

This obviously whets my appetite for Kizumonogatari (the prequel people are actually looking for, describing “the Vampire incident on Spring Break” we’ve only very briefly flashbacked to until now), whenever that comes out ; and the “second season”, apparently slated for later this year.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2013 – Page 2.

Chihayafuru 2 was off to a good start, with the start of a new school year and the introduction of new club members feeling like a strong enough move forward to avoid repetition of what the first season did, and update the formula somewhat. (To say nothing of complicating the love dodecahedron a bit more.)

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2013 – Page 8.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Senyuu, a series of shorts parodying heroic-fantasy RPG games. Hilariously mean-spirited, and served by some impressive voice work from Yuuichi Nakamura. It’s got a shoe-string budget, but that doesn’t prevent it from being lots of fun.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2013 – Page 9.

I won’t bother with a full review for Straight Title Robot Anime (Chokkyuu Hyoudai Robot Anime). Notionally it’s supposed to be the first anime series fully animated with Vocaloid-type software, but that just makes it look cheap and generic. As for the story, it’s basically three “girl” androids failing to grasp the concept of humour for 12 minutes. I don’t just mean it’s tedious and unfunny (although it certainly is) : that’s really the plot. (They’re trying to recreate human humour long after humanity has vanished.)

I wouldn’t recommand watching this crap to anyone.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2013 – Page 11.


(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

What is this I don’t even…


The titular Sasami, a recluse who never leaves home. She’s extensively cared for by her elder brother. When he’s off to work, she uses her computer network to spy on him possessively.

Said brother remains unnamed throughout the episode, and indeed goes to impressively bizarre lengths not to show his face to the camera at any point. Anyway, he’s a high school teacher, and probably well into his thirties.

Then there are the three sisters pursuing him to various degrees. Tsurugi is one of his colleagues, who does stuff like watching porn in the teachers’ office. The other two are students in the same high school : Kagami is the deadpan sarcastic one, Tama the loony one.

And then the plot goes completely insane : chocolate starts overtaking the world until the three sisters put a stop to it and save the world. (Oh, and and Kagami is apparently a cyborg.) It’s implied that this kind of stuff happens regularly.

It’s a SHAFT show, so there are absolutely no other characters around, with a cityscape entirely devoid of even a single extra.

Production Values

Typical Shinbo direction : artfully composed wide shots, random weird body language bits (such as the brother’s insistant avoidance of the camera), non-naturalistic backgrounds and colours. The animation for the action sequence is very impressive, which makes me wonder about the budget of this series.

What did I think of it ?

Hum. I had no worry that if anyone could make a brocon series watchable, it’d be SHAFT. Especially as the source material is said to be quirkily bizarre on its own right. And this is certainly an enthralling watch, even as alarms bell ring to warn that all of those characters are very creepy indeed.

But the big question is : where do you go from there ? A “bizarre menace of the week” structure could quickly become tediously repetitive, but I doubt this is really what the series is going for. On the other hand, there’s not that much room for character growth either : the characters’ quirks are overpowering and allow for little depth.

There’s definitely a lot of potential here, and on a technical level it’s definitely on SHAFT’s upper range, but I’m not convinced yet this is a show with legs beyond the shock-value façade.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2013 – Page 6.

Le Portrait de Petite Cossette (Cossette no Shouzou)

(3 36-minute episodes, 2004)

My previous exposure

After the success of Bakemonogatari and Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Akiyuki Shinbo barely needs any introduction, and his name should be reason enough to revisit his earlier works. Especially after stumbling onto The Soultaker last year in my half-joke “Spring 2001 in review”, which showed that his directing skills were already impressive more than a decade ago.

I’ve had mixed luck with Shinbo’s back catalog in the past (Soultaker was impressive, Negima!? okay, but I couldn’t get through more than a few episodes of Pani Poni Dash and Hidamari Sketch), but this is a short OVA series, so why not try it out ?

What’s it about ?

Our generic male protagonist mans his uncle’s antique shop while the latter gallivants the world. One day, he stumbles in his inventory onto a cupboard hiding the portrait of a girl. Also, one of the glasses inside allows him to see the image of said girl… and to talk with her.

From that point starts a very creepy relationship, to the increasing concern of his few friends and the local psychic. And that’s before the bodies start piling in.

What did I think of it ?

With the routine use of peculiar angles, the thoughtful composition of every shot, and the use of editing as punctuation, there’s an hypnotic quality to Shinbo’s directing… and by this I mean it often makes me drowse and lose focus if I’m not quite hooked by the story. In his good series, there’s usually a sudden jolt in the plot that forces me to pay attention (Bakemonogatari‘s sudden child abuse flashback, Soultaker‘s descent into insanity, Sayonara Zetsubou-sensei‘s social commentary, everything in PMMM). Here, it’s the twist about the portrait… but that’s in the third episode. So I’m left with two episodes of creepy atmosphere that I couldn’t make much emotional attachment to, and a very good ending that puts a completely different spin on the previous happenings but still makes perfect sense.

So I’m a bit conflicted about this one. The ending was very good indeed, and Shinbo’s craft shines throughout, but I can’t ignore I couldn’t quite care about the first two-thirds of it.

via [LTTP/WIW] Various anime from the 00s and beyond – Page 13.


(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.