Spring Anime Misadventures!

April 1st, 2012 – Anime Reviews, Other Articles, Reviews

After a fairly lackluster Winter season, the new Spring anime is finally upon us!  And since most of what I’m watching just ended, I find that I’m looking for a couple new shows to pick up.  So here’s what I’m gonna do for you!

I’m going to grab any first episode that comes out in the next week or two and then tell you all what I think!  I’ve had a look at the schedule, but there won’t be any refreshers for me!  Nope, if I see a new show, I’m watching it right then and there.  And I have to sit through the whole thing, no matter how poorly drawn it might be!  So watch as I suffer through god-knows-how-many terrible anime shows about basketball, cats, fishing, and whatever other brilliant ideas managed to make it to production.

P.S. Basketball and fishing are actually the topics for shows this season…

So, let’s get this started!

The last show I reviewed was:

Sankarea

Rating: 4

Furuya’s just an ordinary high schooler. He’s really only interested in girls at this point. The only thing that sets him apart from other boys, though, is that he prefers the ones that aren’t alive. That’s right, Furuya’s got a raging zombie fetish, to the point where he watches only zombie movies, and his room is filled with zombie stuff.

But somehow, this doesn’t actually hurt this show. Furuya recognizes that his preferences are deviant, that he’s thought of as weird by even his closest friends, and that he’ll never find his perfect girlfriend when he’s looking for a zombie. It’s not played for comedy, simply stated, matter of fact, “Furuya loves zombie girls, that’s how it is.” His cat is suddenly run over one day, and he decides to try out a book of spells that came into his possession, attempting to bring his cat back. As he attempts, nightly, to figure out what one of the ingredients is, he encounters Sanka Rea, a beautiful rich girl who is fed up with her life, and they have a strange moment of bonding over the attempts to resurrect his cat.

I’m a bit surprised that I did enjoy this, as it seems quite a bit out there (then again, I’m loving Mysterious Girlfriend X, so…). I’d imagine there are two directions that this series can go now. The resurrection fails, we find there is no magic in the world, and the series progresses with Furuya coming to terms with the fact that there are no, and never will be, any zombies. Or, the resurrection succeeds, Sanka Rea dies and is similarly resurrected, and then Furuya has his perfect girlfriend. I think I might prefer the first, but the title of the next episode is “I… succeeded?”, and the cat keeps appearing in the opening and closing, so I have a good guess which they’re going with. But, I think I’ll stick with this for a little while longer. It managed to get me interested.

Accel World

Rating: 4.5

Now this is a fantastic example of a series about escaping reality.

The world has been completely revolutionized by compact neural interfaces, allowing people to wear their personal computers around their necks. It’s a world where everyone is constantly connected, and despite all of the outward changes, things are still pretty much the same. Haru is short, chubby, and constantly bullied, so he uses these new digital worlds as an escape to a place where he has real talent. He’s invited to download a strange program which lets him “accelerate”, giving him time 1000-fold to assess situations in real life. It appears, though, that there is a trade-off to this ability, as the end of the episode leaves us with Haru getting challenged to a fight in this Accel World.

This world is fantastically built, and the flow of events is perfectly smooth. Everything seems to lead into something else. We already have an idea of who Haru is, and even his friends seem to be getting character a single episode in. I’m very excited to see where this is going, and will definitely be following it this season.

Medaka Box

Rating: 3.5

One more show this season that I think is good, but not necessarily great. Super-capable (and super-busty) Medaka has just been elected president of the student council with a landslide 98% of the votes. Her most important campaign promise: maintain a suggestion box into which students can drop their troubles, at which the point the student council will do whatever it takes to reach a resolution. Her childhood friend Zenkichi insists that he won’t be joining the student council to help her, but gets dragged into it anyways, helping her with the request to clear a bunch of delinquents out of the kendo dojo (the leader of whom has KAMINA’S voice!).

I’m really not sure what else to say about this. It’s not nearly as heavy on the fanservice as I thought it might be, whether you take that as a plus or a minus (to be fair, though, Medaka does strip in the student council room to make Zenkichi uncomfortable). And the idea of going around helping people with random problems seems like it has some merit. I certainly like Zenkichi, who is extremely competent himself, but doesn’t seem like it due to always being overshadowed by Medaka. So there’s plot and there’s character here, but I have difficulty saying that I loved it. I’ll leave it, once again, saying that it shows promise.

Zetman

Rating: 3.5/5

I want to give Zetman a better rating than this, I really do. Secret monster fights evil monsters to save humanity is a concept that’s right up my alley. But there might be too much exposition in this episode for its own good.

Basically, rich people created monsters and then made them fight each other, then everyone was absolutely shocked when they decided they weren’t cool with that plan, killed all of the observers, and escaped. About 10 years later one of the monsters is getting antsy, and starts killing random people. Jin is pulled into all of this, and his grandfather is killed, which he doesn’t understand. The next day the woman who began to take care of him got attacked, and he pulls secret super-mode and pulverizes the monster.

That seems like a solid setup, but it just falls a bit flat for whatever reason. Jin’s ignorance is a bit annoying, and some of the coincidental characters are just complete jerks. I’m definitely going to try to keep with this, to see where it goes, because I really think there’s a good story in here. But it hasn’t come out yet.

Upotte!!

If she could shoot so close without hitting, why was she so far off on the sides?

You've got to watch what you say when the students are guns


Rating: 2/5

Now, I thought this would be a pretty amusing concept. A new teacher arrives at a school, and discovers that all of the students are actually assault rifles. I figured, “Hey, the students are guns, they must get into awesome fights like in Soul Eater! Students are weapons there, too!”

I was sadly mistaken. This is more like Hetalia where everyone is just a gun from their country. And the plot is driven, presumably, by FNC’s apparent crush on this new teacher, and the <sarcasm>hi-larious</sarcasm> misunderstandings he gets himself into. And the girls name is FNC, because she’s an assault rifle, like we said.

This show isn’t without its amusing moments, to be perfectly frank. Some of the “girls = guns” line of humor does pretty well, such as translating a problem for a gun onto a girl. Maybe the rest of the humor was lost on me because I don’t know enough about guns? Even if that’s the case, though, that’s a serious failing of the series. A show that caters to an audience of specialists utterly alienates most of the population. Something like this can be done well, but most of the humor needs to be approachable, or at least work on two levels, so that every now and then there’s a little “wink, wink” for the specialists in the more general audience. All in all, it’s fairly mediocre, and I had really hoped they would be going in a different direction than “slice of life for guns”.

Mysterious Girlfriend X

Is he doing what I think he's doing?

Yep, this is the premise for the show.

Rating: 4.5/5

I’m having some difficulty trying to talk about this show here. I suppose that, to condense my opinion, I would say “weird and wonderful”. Because this show is certainly weird – the premise is something like this:

Urabe Mikoto is a new transfer student, labeled ’strange’ on her very first day. She’s quiet, unapproachable, and always chooses to pass out on her desk during breaks rather than interact with the other students. After Akira wakes her after class one day, he notices that she drooled on her desk, and, for reasons even he doesn’t quite understand, decides to taste it. And after that he can’t stop dreaming about her.

Even despite that setup – or maybe, because of it – this show kept me thoroughly amused the whole time. The weirdness goes past believable, but only by the tiniest bit. I can almost imagine this happening, so it seems like an experience that is just beyond what could actually occur. They could probably take this into some “magical” or “dream” direction, but I really hope that they don’t. It’s the weirdness of the show plus its loose ties to reality that I believe make this shine. I think this is definitely a show I’ll be continuing to watch this season.

Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka? OF THE DEAD

Plot

Magical GIRL.

Rating: 4/5
Fanservice level: 4/10*

If you didn’t watch season one of this show, here’s the quick summary for you. Aikawa is a zombie. He lives with the necromancer who brought him back to life. He is also a magical girl, after accidentally taking one’s power. She lives with him waiting for her power to return. He also lives with a busty vampire-ninja who won’t leave until the necromancer agrees to help her. He is also “married” to another vampire-ninja due to an accidental kiss.

That’s the entire setting for Kore wa Zombie in a nutshell, if you add in the fairly frequent fanservice. Of course, Aikawa is just as likely to end up in compromising positions as the women, so it’s played for pretty great effect. I really enjoyed the first season, so I was pretty excited to see more of the same from season two.

Unfortunately, that’s all I got. There was no real development, there were a few new girls haphazardly thrown at us, and the plot was intentionally ripped right out of the first episode of season one. I’m not saying that this show isn’t still enjoyable – it’s still a ton of fun watching Aikawa squirm as he has to transform into a magical girl in front of his classmates. But I was hoping for more out of the season, certainly for episode 1. It’s something I would recommend to any fan of this sort of genre, but it managed to leave me slightly disappointed.

*4/10 means no full nudity, but gratuitous shots of panties, tight shirts, and butts. As I said, though, Aikawa is just as likely to be exposed, so be aware.

Saint Seiya Omega

Saint Seiya - total BAMF

This guy isn't even the main character and he's still awesome.

Rating: 5/5

Logic tells me that this show should be terrible, and yet I love it with every fiber of my being.

Something about combining space and gods and superpowered combat seems so ridiculous that it couldn’t possibly work, and yet here we are.

I keep trying to find things wrong with this show, and failing as a whole. Not every character looks entirely human, sure, and the concept is a bit silly, but everything just seems to be so perfect. They open with immediately introducing the big baddie of the series, and have an epic fight with the idol of the series – not the main character, mind you, but the one the main character can aspire to be like. After the opening, we see the main character struggling to care about training, and trying to fight a fate that has been dropped upon him that he doesn’t understand. There’s just so much potential for growth, and a surprising depth to a character essentially in an action show.

I certainly don’t think that Saint Seiya Omega is for everybody. If you can’t get past the concept, or if overpowered action scenes aren’t your thing then it’s right out. But otherwise, Saint Seiya Omega is a show that you really shouldn’t miss out on.

Space Brothers

Rating: 4/5

As children, brothers Hibito and Mutta saw a UFO while exploring in the woods.  It inspired a lifelong fascination with space in both of them, and inspired them both to try to reach space one day.  Years later, younger brother Hibito is set to join NASA on a mission to the moon, while Mutta has just been fired from his job as a car designer.  As Mutta laments how his brother has gotten so much further than him, he rediscovers his dream of going to space.

When I first saw this show in my list, I was a little under-impressed.  The animation style didn’t seem to be anything spectacular, and the story seemed only vaguely interesting.  But Space Brothers has stepped up to the challenge, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover a small cast of very real characters.  As I followed the first episode, I felt right there with Mutta, trying to search for a new job as his mind was filled with thoughts of space.  It’s not the sort of show that I like to watch, which is why it only has a 4 out of 5 rating, but if you want something with real-life situations and truly sympathetic characters, Space Brothers is looking to be the strongest candidate this season.

Hiiro no Kakera

Rating: 3.5/5

Audience: Mostly girls looking for a supernatural/romance series

Kasuga has just arrived at her grandmother’s house, when a heaping helping of “fate” suddenly gets dropped on her plate. Fresh off the bus, she is attacked by a group of tarlike gods/ghosts (the two are used interchangeably).  Onizaki drops in to save her, and brings her back to her grandmother’s house.  Suddenly she finds that she’s critical in maintaining the balance of the world, and is naturally struggling to come to terms with it.

This series is not without its flaws, but it managed to get me interested, and I was more than pleased when the supernatural was thrown right at me. The animation and style are very nice, although it seems like some of the backgrounds got more attention than the actual characters.  After the credits, though, they quickly introduced a group of characters obviously meant to be series antagonists, a move I can truly get behind.

The pacing of the episode is a bit strange, in a few minutes going from a bus ride to a fight in the forest and then back to casual conversation.  But it appears that the series is supposed to be primarily reverse-harem in its dealings, trying to appeal to female viewers looking for pretty boys.  If that’s what you’re looking for, then this is right up your alley.  Otherwise, I’m not entirely sure the plot will stay strong enough to keep you interested.

But you can’t deny that the spirit fox is completely adorable.

OZMA

Rating: 2/5

OZMA is about a bleak future where much of the Earth’s water supply has disappeared, covering most of its surface in arid desert.

Unfortunately, the show is just as bland and monotonous as the desert it is set in.

When starting a new story like this, it’s important to convince people that they want to continue watching, to make them invested in the series.  This is usually done by introducing strong characters that viewers can connect to, a strong plot that pulls viewers in, or a huge spectacle that leaves viewers craving more.  OZMA fails to do any of these things.  Characters are haphazardly thrown at us one after another, given no time to establish more than a single defining trait.  There’s a generic bad guy in a mask, but I hardly think he’s actually bad, and there appears to be very little at stake.  And as for the spectacle, well, I watched in 1080p high-definition, and even the enormous OZMA/sand whale/sand worm failed to be particularly impressive, especially with the main character expressing how he wanted to CATCH the enormous thing.

I’m not going to completely pan OZMA, since I believe that there actually is a story in there somewhere among all of the blandness.  But it failed to make me care about anything or anyone, and that’s very nearly a killing blow.

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