What’s on: winter begins

Here’s what I’ve gotten into so far, more watching than I’ve done in quite a while.

Mirai Nikki.

God, it’s dumb. It really is. A little bit of everything we once thought anime was, with a little bit of Death Note/Geass style human chess, and a little bit of 21st century cuteness. It all adds up to something that consistently insults your intelligence but manages to rope you back in with a nice “OH NO SHE DI’INT!!” kind of fun.

Key appeal: Murder Moe

Guilty Crown.

Still maligned, I think it’s going to drop off a lot more people’s radars as the new season rolls along, which is sad for my Sea Slugs blogging but whatever — I’m still enjoying this thing. Say what you will about Shu (somewhat more likable than a lot of people give him credit for, and infinitely better-written), or about the truck-sized logic holes (which are nothing compared to some of Mirai Nikki’s), but it’s never a snoozefest and it always looks good.

Key appeal: Battle outfits

Nisemonogatari.

Nisioisin, Captain Cleverpants of the Clever Brigade, writes up some clever dialog and has two “characters” at a time speak it to each other while they lean against metaphorical settings; meanwhile, Wackiyuki Shinbo eats it up because everything can be simultaneously symbolic, surreal, and cheaply animated. Well, maybe there’s a little more money to throw around here. Certainly all the characters are loaded, did you see Ararararagi’s house? This is otakubait of the highest caliber, and of course it works. There are a couple panty shots and a lot of talk about panty shots, and some dialog that’s actually so meta it involves the gang making fun of themselves for participating in the act of meta comedy. Breaking the 5th wall, if you will. Some will find that deliciously sharp and witty, but if it’s just a little too painfully clever for you, I wouldn’t blame you. Production values are good so far; I interpret that as either “Bakemonogatari and Madoka made us enough money to do this right” or “expect a lot of black screens by episode 11.”

Key appeal: Word Pong
Squick factor: potentially high

Poyopoyo.

Eventually if people yell about something enough, and that thing is only 3 minutes long, you’ll watch it. And it was cute, I suppose. It also has Kenshiro. The titular cat is completely spherical, which makes it the ideal shape for lots of tasks that can’t be accomplished using conventional cats, but it remains to be seen whether that will elevate Poyopoyo beyond the usual (very low) level of usefulness you see from cats.

Key appeal: Uniform geometry

Recorder and Randsell.

Another short one, I expected to hate it based on the silly premise, but rather than trying to eke some kind of story or otakubait fetish out of this one, it’s purely a contrivance set up to make a joke. And you know what? I laughed. Pacing and joke-timing was solid, and it ended at just the right time. Second episode? Well, it already tried for something a little more heartwarming. Would prefer some more decent jokes first.

Key appeal: Child molester jokes, ha ha!
Squick factor: legal pedophilia 

Another.

I see a lot of complaints that the first episode broadcasted its intended spooky factor far too strongly, but until I start seeing the quick cuts, soundtrack stabs, and gratuitous zooms on dilating eyes (yes I know there was one) that are the hallmarks of anime’s least-properly-executed genre, I’m going to hang for a while. I’ve watched a lot of horror, I’ve worked on horror films, I’ve seen a zillion crappy midnight shows, and the side effects are contradictory: I know something about what constitutes good and bad horror, and I like shitty horror anyway. At any rate, it’s very good-looking, as with most PA Works productions, but of course that hasn’t saved them all (insert your own reference here because everyone hates a different PA Works series). Someone proposed on Sea Slugs, what if the girl is actually alive and the kids are all just really mean to her? I like this.

Key appeal: Eyepatch moe, backgrounds, crows

Rinne No Lagrange.

If I can only keep one of Tatsuo Sato’s shows this season, it’s probably gonna be Pirates, but it should be noted that Viz is streaming this thing in HD on Hulu, and aside from the Hulu app having a penchant for crashing my Roku, it’s a really nice trend that I look forward to Crunchyroll finally managing to get right. I mean, the clarity with which you can see the skirts come off is… well, it’s astounding, really. As a robot anime, I’m not sure I’m sold but I don’t have a robot anime this season unless you count Guilty Crown‘s sometimes-incidental Endlave content. So we’ll see. For a vapid fanservice-heavy romp, it was charming.

Key appeal: Sweatpants moe

Shana.

I’m having a really hard time keeping up. I just… I just don’t care that much.

Key appeal: Marjorie gets some

Bodacious Space Pirates.

Maybe it helps that I was watching on Saturday morning, the time when you watch cartoons, but it worked for me. It seems like an unlikely recipe all around. Imagine the drunken scenario planning: “Two words guys… Moe Harlock!” Kawamori’s Satelight, who always seem to lean toward “colorful but terribly flat” in their animation, do a fine job of making some very cute character designs come to life in a less-flat fashion, even if the thing still suffers from their trademark HEY GUYS THIS CG BLENDS IN FINE RIGHT? RIGHT?

Other thoughts:

  • Check out animekritik’s blog for some Japanese reactions, mostly summed up as “old-fashioned.” Personally, an old-fashioned retro style adventure with a modern moe edge seems like a better idea for sustainable anime than any of Yamakan’s highfalutin notions about saving it.
  • The Harlock theme song.
  • Schneider mentioned a 2ch line re: the novel, something to the effect of “there is no sexual fanservice, only long descriptions about the ships.” And suddenly the boners transfer from one crowd to another.
  • Digiboy seemed to hate it, which has to count for something too.
Key appeal: Old school adventure, messy pink hair
Potential bonus: Ship porn, HanaKana if you’re into that

Bonus: Escaflowne.

Never finished it. Not sure why. About halfway through, and so far so good. It’s pretty much the ideal combination of classic shoujo, fantasy, unique mecha, intrigue, and level-up action. More on Escaflowne later, but short story is I’m enjoying it quite a bit.

Anything I’m missing? I’ll probably ignore it, whatever it is, since I can’t even sustain this many shows as it is and I’ll probably want to watch Black Rock Shooter (sue me). If I don’t conscript my wife into watching at least one more thing with me (currently Mirai Nikki and Guilty Crown) I’ll never make it. But I’m always interested in hearing what everyone else likes.

Fuck these (12) Comments.

  1. Shinmaru says:

    Warning: Escaflowne drops off a cliff after the halfway point. It’s generally beloved, though, so I’m probably in the minority on that point. Let’s just it’s very “crazy ’90s anime” after a certain point.

    I thought Another’s first episode was all right. Maybe laying it on a bit thick, but it’s the first episode and shit’s being established. I can give that sort of thing a pass. I’m a big horror fan, too, so I’m more than willing to keep going with it for now.

    • otou-san says:

      well you may be in the majority, but so far 2 out of 3 comments say that, so we’ll see I guess. I’m starting to wonder if I’m not forgiving to a fault, considering I kinda thought “what’s the big deal?” about the end of stuff like Kare Kano and Dennou Coil that a lot of people dislike. I definitely ignore a lot of faults because probably 90% of decent anime series don’t finish as strongly as we’d hope.

      As for Another yeah, I’m right on board. Thick, but that’s not necessarily a problem… yet.

      • Shinmaru says:

        Haha, well, I actually like Kare Kano’s ending more than most except for a couple of episodes. I didn’t really have a problem with Dennou Coil’s ending, either, except that it’s not quite as exciting as some climactic moments earlier in the series. Escaflowne, though … that just gets fucking weird. But I actually like the very end of the series for whatever reason lol.

  2. schneider says:

    re: Bodacious Space Pirates

    My ship grew long, its battle-worn prow adorned with dozens of bristling– yeah. I hope they pour some money into the ships!

  3. digibro says:

    Lovely post~

    >>Digiboy seemed to hate it, which has to count for something too.

    Hate is a strong word. I *hated* Inu x Boku SS. This, I just found really boring. It has a lot to do with the fact that I don’t like the character designs. Incidentally, if you swapped the character designs from Inu x Boku into this show, I’d probably still be watching it. I’ve found I can handle slow pacing infinitely better when I’m enjoying the designs—oh look, Another! Yeah, that show was boring as fuck too, but I can’t drop it because it’s so pretty and I’m a PA Works fanboy (btw my fill-in for the parenthesis is HanaIro, though I don’t hate that show either). But Another does make me remember that PA Works is an offshoot of Bee Train… maybe if the show turns out to blow nuts, I’ll talk about it on my Bee Train blog lol.

    Just gonna warn you the second half of Escaflowne is really disappointing, though now that I’ve said that you probably won’t be as disappointed and end up liking it.

    >>but if it’s just a little too painfully clever for you, I wouldn’t blame you

    Bakemonogatari has always been painfully clever to me, but I manage to enjoy it just because it’s part of how the show is what it is, if that makes any sense.

    • otou-san says:

      I get get a long way with a great story and bad character designs, but I actually really enjoyed the designs in Pirates. Fun times.

      Just gonna warn you the second half of Escaflowne is really disappointing, though now that I’ve said that you probably won’t be as disappointed and end up liking it.

      Yeah I’ve been hearing that but no point in stopping now, I would like to see it for myself.

  4. jpmeyer says:

    Key appeal: Murder Moe

    I think you mean Key appeal: That most unacceptable of plot devices

  5. foshizzel says:

    I like your Guilty crown posts! Sooooo good they always make me laugh! As much as people hate it weekly I find it to be lots of fun to poke fun at and make jokes <3

    • otou-san says:

      Thanks man! It’s a fun one to blog because like I said, it’s never boring, and even if it’s stupid — who cares, the minute blogging is a chore then I quit. Blogging Guilty Crown is fun as hell.