Monday, January 14, 2008

January 2008 Anime -- First Impressions

Based on one or two episodes, here are some first impressions:

true tears -- After two episodes, this is the cream of the crop, for me. Beautifully directed, with interesting characters, and silences full of meaning. The animation is almost KyoAni-level. Takagaki Ayahi is outstanding as the electric Noe, and Nazuka Kaori equally outstanding as gentle, complex Hiromi. Nishimura Junji, the director of Simoun, and Okada Mari, one of its writers, have taken the original game and completely re-imagined it. EDIT 4Feb.: On track to be a masterpiece.

Spice and Wolf -- I hoped that the "wise wolf" Horo would become a classic role for Koshimizu Ami, and episode one makes me think my wish just might come true. Horo is a powerful thousand-year-old wolf-goddess posing as a 15-year-old human, and her archaic speech and playful character really give Amisuke something to sink her teeth into. Horo's travels with the merchant Lawrence show promise. This may give the staff a chance to wipe out the memory of their previous show, Cosmopolitan Prayers. Best OP of the season. EDIT: Good in itself, but Ami makes it excellent.

Porfy no Nagai Tabi -- This year's show in the World Masterpiece Theater series is directed by Mochizuki Tomomi (YKK, Zettai Shounen, Princess Nine) and got off to a good, but typically slow, start in the first two episodes. High-class family drama, involving a Greek boy who will lose his parents in an earthquake and travel around Europe trying to find his sister. EDIT: Maintains its quality.

Hatenkou Yuugi -- Reverse-harem shoujo adventure, with a fascinatingly unpredictable lead shoujo played by the great Kobayashi Sanae. Her bishounen henchmen are played by Sakurai Takahiro and Miki Shinichirou. Could degenerate into monster of the week, but not bad through two episodes. EDIT: I've lost interest.

H2O Footsteps in the Sand -- I will probably have finished watching this show by the time I decide if it is worth watching. I enjoy it enough so far, with its mysteries and its determined lead guy. But it seems crudely constructed, somehow, like Myself;Yourself. And like that show it tries to shock us with unexpected violence. EDIT: A couple of episodes were as bad as anything I've ever seen, but then an episode came up in which there was some emotion. Very, very poorly made, but retains some shreds of interest.

Persona Trinity Soul -- This much psychic angst and violence are too much for me, but it seems like a strong, well-made anime. EDIT: Dropped.

Shigofumi -- This show is the love-child of Shinigami no Ballad and Jigoku Shoujo. The plot through the first two episodes seemed a bit clunky, but worked. Ueda Kana is beginning to display her vocal chops in ep2. EDIT: Gets better and better. Combines epsiodic plots with a continuing plot, and brings in Asano Masumi as a major continuing character.

Minami-ke O-kawari -- Another helping by another studio with the same VAs. It's okay, I guess. I was never as amused by the first version last fall as many others were, and they are not as happy with this version as with that one.

Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei -- More more of the same. But this time it really is the same. Shinbou by Shinbou. Smart, beautiful, weird.

ARIA the Origination -- Even more. It looks great and sounds great. Lovers of the franchise like it. I admire it, but I hardly ever seem to get through a whole episode. If you are an ARIA fan, however, then be sure to watch: this is probably the last ARIA anime, since the manga itself is drawing to a close.

Hakaba no Kitarou -- I was going to pass on this one until I read the AnimeSuki thread. Wonderful animation and music and a charming (?) story, through ep1 at least -- as long as humorous, knowing urchins from beyond the grave are to your taste. I should have known that Noitamina would not bore us.

-- Well-made low-impact family comedy with Doraemon-like character design. Worth a look.

Ayakashi -- Poorly made, but somehow quite entertaining. I could have said the same about this director's previous show, Lamune, which involved pure romance rather than supernatural violence and teens with special powers. Good cast includes Mizuki Nana, Kishio Daisuke, Matsuki Miyu, Shimizu Ai, Yukino Satsuki, Sugita Tomokazu.

Gunslinger Girl - Il Teatrino -- I found the first episode quite lame, and so did lovers of the original series. They say this substitutes standard moe for the original impassive lolis. Bad move.

They Are My Noble Masters -- A terrible waste of some great VA talent. At least Hayate is occasionally watchable. This is Hayate with very limp humor. EDIT: I've changed my mind completely on this show: it is hilariously outrageous and has some great characters. I just didn't get it at first.

Rosario to Vampire -- A real disappointment. Mizuki Nana is good as the lead girl, but the plot, animation, and personalities are deeply boring, through two episodes.

Sisters of Wellber 2 -- It was lovely to hear the dulcet tones of Takahashi Mikako again, but this just feels poorly made and dull.


Kaioshin Sama said...

The Kitarou series is one of the longest running anime/manga franchises of all time that still see's frequent entries. It was actually one of the foundational series. The first Kitarou TV series aired in 1968 in Black and White, well before our times, and over the years it has been kept alive by tradition, nostaligia and several reimaginings of the TV Series. I believe this is part of the fifth iteration (there is about one per decade so far). Hope you find this info useful.

hashihime said...

@Kaioshin_sama -- Thanks for that. I've seen Hakaba no Kitarou referred to as Gegege no Kitarou for adults. It's interesting that two versions have come out in such quick succession.

Shirukii said...

Horo and Noe ftw, my two fav characters of the season as well.

Oh, as for ARIA. I once fell asleep watching an episode because it was so calming, when I woke up I felt refreshed and watched the episode again. It was awesome.

basic.syntax said...

@shirukii [re: ARIA] your comment is hilarious. (I've not seen any ARIA.)

Gunslinger Girl: "impassive"? I think you may mean "impulsive" (takes sudden unexpected action) ?

I liked the girls-with-guns action in NOIR, which was intentionally not that bloody (to make a point about the inhumanity of the Soldats,) but stayed away from Gunslinger because it seemed too much like all it was offering was a graphic bloodbath every episode - not to my taste. (Yet I endured Claymore somehow.)

hashihime said...

@basic.syntax -- I did mean "impassive," like not showing any emotion as they went about their work. I think I read a comment to that effect on a blog recently. And that's how I remember the one or two episodes I watched. I didn't think they were impulsive, since they were carrying out orders in every case, as I recall.

So many people whose opinions I respect love ARIA that I always feel I'm missing something, but when I watch it, I still don't really get it -- except that the images and voices are great.

psgels said...

Wellber no Monogatari has its own charm, but you need to have seen the first season for that. It's indeed quite cheesy at times, but it knows how to flesh out its characters and has been very enjoyable at times.

0rion said...

This season seems like a very nice blend of different options over all. It also seems like there are quite a few middle of the road series this time around, as well; not many that really stand out, but also not many that are just horribly bad.

As for Aria, I can understand that the slow pace is perhaps not to everyone's liking, but no one can deny the amazingly high production values, fantastic music, and great seiyuu that the show has to offer. It's a real class act all around.

Aria is THE definitive slice-of-life series, really, so for fans of that genre this final season is worthy of top rankings on the ol' watch list.

Matrim said...

"but stayed away from Gunslinger because it seemed too much like all it was offering was a graphic bloodbath every episode - not to my taste."

Er, Gunslinger Girl season one actually had a lot less shootouts and action than Noir. The first episode is quite misleading in that respect.

Can we really call Hatenkou Yuugi reverse harem? There are just two male main characters for now. :) It rocks though, even if I am way too biased being Kobayashi Sanae fanboy.

True Tears is quite amazing, even if the genre doesn't appeal to me and i find it a tad too melodramatic thus far. But the atmosphere it creates is so gripping that even if it was for the eye candy it offers, I would still have watched it.

usagijen said...

Porfy no Nagai Tabi will be a good series to follow. A realistic drama which will have the power to move its audience, even without the use of additional aesthetics, moe or bishie fanservice.

Aria has a calming effect on people, and before I get to figure out why people are really into it, I find myself sleeping as I watch it lol.

True Tears is turning out great, same with Hatenkou Yuugi. I'm sticking with Persona for now, same with KimiAru, though I think my amusement for the latter will be short-lived.

hashihime said...

@psgels -- Thanks for the clue to Wellber: "flesh out its characters." Maybe that will help me understand its appeal. I'll give it another go. "Cheesy" is no problem for me, if other things are in place.

Anonymous said...

I can't say I agree with the They Are My Masters thing. Hayate is great for the cutesy moe, but TAMM seems more towards a more conventional, straight comedy. I thought it was pretty funny but definitely not for everyone.

hashihime said...

@anonymous -- Sense of humor is very individual, and different people enjoy different types. I was expressing my own personal reaction, a little too strongly.

basic.syntax said...

Er, Gunslinger Girl season one actually had a lot less shootouts and action than Noir. The first episode is quite misleading in that respect.

Thanks for the info, I may eventually check it out. My problem is with gratuitous blood spattering all over the place. The more accurate and graphic it gets, the more ill I get. At times I almost dropped Claymore due to the gross out parts, but just sort of covered my eyes because the characters and secret organization backstory were so good (for this type of show.)

Noir was incredibly violent, but saved any blood (and there wasn't much,) for characters they wanted you to have some feeling for. At times, the number of Soldats dropping like flies was hilarious, but I'm not sure that they intended it to be funny. The higher ups simply threw expendable men-with-guns at the girls to test them and force them to improve their skills. We in the audience weren’t meant to feel anything for them, because their bosses didn’t.

The other issue I have with Gunslinger is the loli's with guns aspect - and it gets political. I don't care if they're robots, androids, bio-factured, or brainwashed: a very few kids under 10 who happen to see this kind of thing might identify with the (looks like) kids on the screen, and decide to play with daddy's gun, because it looked cool.

totali said...

Haha, my opinions mirror yours for the most part, with a few differences in certain shows. What's new?

I'm also one of those super Aria fans...hey, you either like it or you don't xD. Anyone who is actually watching the THIRD season is probably already a huge fan.

Top for me at the moment - definitely Shigofumi.