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[Featurama] Midseason Anime Winter 2012 Review

 


So we’ve reached the halfway point this season so here’s some of what us at the office have to say about the shows we’ve watched so far.

 

ANOTHER

I have been thoroughly enjoying Another. It starts off quite slow, and blatantly telegraphs a major twist which is supposed to be a “shocking” moment at the end of episode three, but the plot is starting to really pick up and we’re seeing a wonderful decline in “we would tell you this incredibly relevant thing but someone told us not to” conversations.

The male lead is pretty standard as teenage anime heroes go, though he does a fine enough job voicing questions where other main characters in mystery/horror animes tend to remain maddeningly silent, and the female lead is a perplexingly endearing enigma. With the season about halfway through, I’m really hoping to see things continue to move at its current pace.

BLACK ROCK SHOOTER

Unfortunately, as of this writing I have only been able to acquire and watch the first episode of Black Rock Shooter. As mentioned the last time I wrote about this show, I really enjoyed the OVA and found myself disappointed that the anime is not a direct continuation of the OVA’s drop-you-off-a-cliff-hanger ending. It does appear to be a retelling of the OVA’s story so far, with the writers using the added time the series affords them in order to expand upon the story and characters- already, a completely new character has arrived and the dynamic between Mato, the heroine, and Yomi, the girl she wants to befriend, is rather more complicated than we’ve seen before (vagueness intended to avoid spoilers).

A very pleasant surprise was how very wrong my beliefs that the action sequences would be less slick and lower-budget ended up being; this is a show which will moment-to-moment switch from schoolgirls discussing art club to a furious action sequence with no explanation whatsoever, and the impact of the switch is still retained thanks to excellent art design and cinematography in Black Rock Shooter’s combat segments.

Also: it ends with the original song. I still don’t know why the OVA never featured the song.

HIGHSCHOOL DxD

In Highschool DxD’s first episode, a dramatic twist occurs in which an attractive girl turns out to villainous and attempts to kill the main character. The music swells, the world darkens, and the “hero” lies on the ground, bleeding out. This is the kind of moment I like; this is the sort of “nothing is sacred” kind of opening I like to find in my shows.

And then he starts talking about how he managed to see the girl’s boobs when she transformed and attacked him. So.

I’m finding this show rather exhausting, to be honest. Maybe I’m too numb to fanservice after years of watching anime, but an onslaught of ample anime girls isn’t rare. Good writing is rare, and my initial expectations of experiencing decent comedic dialog are being tested. There’s definitely something endearing about a character so unabashedly perverted, and the female lead is more interesting and witty than a fanservice character has any need to be, so I’ll keep going, but if the show doesn’t start to put out something a bit more clever soon, I don’t know if I’ll be able to go much farther.

Ano Natsu de Matteru

So far Ano Natsu de Matteru has been unsurprisingly solid. It’s an unrequited love tail as two people that shouldn’t come together do, and the train of broken hearts begins as everyone in the show except for the loli is in love with somebody that doesn’t seem particularly interested. It’s a great way to root for the under dog while watching the obvious couple get together and it’s all painfully reminiscent of Onegai Teacher. However, the one thing that the studio did to set it apart is day dreaming. The big new addition is a rosy look inside a characters head showcasing what they believe the scenario will play out as they stand there struggling with their situation. It’s fun to see these what if scenarios, but they are lazy and always ends in some sort of awkward situation. Overall the presentation is all top notch stuff that you’d expect from the Toradora studio and even has an homage to one of their past works. It’s good.

Highschool DxD

Highschool DxD is a bit different from what I was expecting. It’s pure harem fanservice, sure. What’s really setting it apart is the fact that they almost immediately abandon the more otaku aspects of our protagonist in place of a new gaggle of way better friends. He’s clearly not as perverted as originally implied and it works along side the sorta interesting race war between angels and demons. Much like Demon King Daimao, it’s almost surprisingly decent through most of the series with no real hang ups. None of the archetypes are played up to annoyance, the story is fairly fast paced and the fanservice isn’t forced. The service is there like you’d expect, but it isn’t detracting from the show. That’s admirable. Unfortunately it has that terrible issue of overcensorship as lots of skin gets whited out for network distribution. While it’s obviously not as good as some of the other shows this season, it still gets the job done and isn’t a waste of time.

 

Zero No Tsukaima F

Zero No Tsukaima F has a lot of the exact same issues it did in all the other seasons. There is technically a love pyramid going on with the ladies and their suitor, but it is hit so hard over the head that they want Louise and Saito together, that it is hard to take any of the other girls fawning over Saito as anything but a forced joke. A big plot device with Tiffania is so slow to unravel that it almost seems pointless to keep coming back to it. In this one instance where a new rival for Louise could appear, it instead focuses on Saito saving her and proposing to buy a family home for her. With that all being said, they are moving the story forward in a proper manner. We’ve already defeated the main antagonist which cleared up Tabitha’s issues. A bigger threat is looming that will bring the 4 void mages together, so the rest of the season does have something to build towards. Saito is gaining prestige in this world which should push for a great wrap up to the series.

Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou

Well see here I’m left a bit surprised. I expected my weeks to be one that would eagerly await the next episode of Nisemonogatari yet I find myself waiting each week more excited for a new episode of Daily Lives of High School Boys. I’d forgotten my days sitting in front of my screen and enjoying those random gag comedies and this is by far the funniest I’ve seen since Arakawa Under the Bridge. Another thing is, and I kid you not, there is a feeling of nostalgia back to my high school days which isn’t even that far off in the past. No, my friends and I didn’t steal underwear and put on plays, but the feeling of doing stupid with a group of friends is nostalgic enough. For instance people watching at the local mall, eating burgers in front of gas stations, losing money on roulette because the term “Let it Ride” apparently means something else to a whole bunch of people. It’s the kind of show where if you were a stupid boy doing stupid things in high school a lot of these warm fuzzy feelings would make sense. Girls too I’m assuming but it seems their lives were more funky than anything else. A really wonderful show that has the added benefit of being gut-wrenchingly hilarious.

Bodacious Space Pirates (Moretsu Uchuu Kaizoku)

Again I am left speechless as to how I’m enjoying all these shows I never expected to enjoy so much. I essentially checked this out on name alone. I didn’t know what a bodacious space pirate was, what they did, or even what exactly bodacious meant but that didn’t stop me. This show was a bit slower to grab my attention than the others. It took six episodes (meaning the latest episode) to fully convince me that this was a show worth writing about. Surprisingly there is a lot less bodacity than I initially imagined (Unless my definition of bodacity is wrong in which case I sincerely hope I’m not.) this show essentially has two things going for it despite this lack. One, it has pirates. Pirates are cool and they do pirate activities like swash buckles and shiver timbers. Two, it’s in space. Space is neat because if my understanding of it is correct, has a whole bunch of aliens, some cowboys (which I hope get into fights with pirates), Nathan Fillion, and giant babies…Mind boggling stuff here people.

No but seriously, after all the build up to our main heroine becoming a pirate captain (Frankly I was just waiting until she wore her awesome outfit) finally paid off in the latest episode to which those of you who watched it surely knows what I’m talking about. I imagine fans of 80’s/90’s anime will especially enjoy this as that was the golden age of sci-fi anime and I think there are a few clever nods to the past in this show. Great show, kind of a boring build up but here’s hoping it keeps the momentum going!

[Best Reference Ever

Nisemonogatariri

Sorry I stuttered…Anyways, just because a few shows came along and surprised me doesn’t mean Nisemonogatari disappointed me. Not at all! In fact everything I expected (save maybe that emotional heft) in the show has so far made an appearance. Sight gags, wordplay, quotable dialogue, fanservice, fanservice, fanservice! Everything is here! Little bits of nihilism, bits of economics (Capitalist-Kun I believe he’s being called?), manliness that would make another man kill out of jealousy. Visually stunning and wonderfully acted, this is top quality anime at its finest. Is the show resting on its laurels? Possibly but there are hints and shades that the sequel plans on doing things much differently and there is a certain sense of unease as the season might becoming unexpectedly dark(er?) as we progress. I’m pretty excited. Honestly I’m quite surprised that the same techniques that lured me into Bakemonogatari is working again. Is it better? Don’t know yet as I’ll wait until the season finishes up but if there’s things that the -gatari series cannot be denied, let no one say that it isn’t want beautiful trip.

 

 

 

 

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