Category Archives: Hidamari Sketch

Autumn 2012 Mid-season Checkpoint

I voted for more shows dropped and more time shooting aliens this November, but I got wet from Konya wa Hurricane. The net total is this post about random observations. If I didn’t mention a show here I probably dropped it, or on hold until whenever like E7Ao.

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! – It’s less mentally offensive than Hyouka because it doesn’t try to engage me on higher level of analysis and thought, so it is much easier to watch. But in a lot of ways it’s definitely inferior. I suppose this is why Dekomori and Kumin exist. I said most of what I wanted last post.

Teekyuu – What I watched: Teekyuu. What I expected: Sofuteni. What I got: Zero Punctuation. Also, this is Mappa? Good on them. About 3000 yen for all of it on Amazon! [Side note: man, pagerank for CR on this keyword is horrible.]

Seitokai no Ichizon & Ebiten – I lump the two together because clearly both are being screened on Nico first (how about that US merger huh) and then picked up by a TV station the season after. HOPEFULLY this means CR will stream it starting in Jan 2013. As far as Seitokai no Ichizon goes I’m pretty okay with the new season, once I got used to the new Akaba voice. It was easier to deal with Mafuyu’s voice because it’s a very neutral tone, although I miss the very subtle tonal acting that was present before, that gave it an extra edge of melancholy. Oh, I probably should mention Seizon Lv.2 Episode 0 was AWESOME, because man, I miss Houko.

Oniai – On the merits, it’s probably worse than NakaImo, and it is more or less the same schtick–crazy girls tries to get into main guy’s pants, entertain mostly with OTT antics and not with so much fanservice, hides its plot/character chops. Takeaways are the two underage seiyuus in Ibuki Kido (as the main sister girl) and Sumire Morohoshi (the 12-yo manager genius). Kido is actually a year younger than Akiko, and Morohoshi a year older than Arisa. My favorite gag has to be the T-shirts. It’s like “Primary schoolgirls are great” but even better. Because I can wear something like Che Akiko and not get arrested.

Zetsuen no Tempest – I’m fascinated by this show, but it’s not the most engaging thing. All the characters are mysterious and hard to read, and you don’t really know what’s going on. How can they build a compelling plot on that? Just turn a bunch of people into metal and have giant eyes float out from the ground, I guess. Oh, add a romantic triangle involving some really messed-up interpersonal relationships. What’s the best about all of this is that it’s done with the precision of a Shakespearean play, instead of something more, well, relatable and visceral. What’s the worst is that it’s all posturing and TL;DRs, with the reasons and rhymes in thoughtful dialogues and monologues. Yeah, it can be kind of dull. It’s no surprise that I like Tempest; I’ve always liked shows like this. Having Bones behind it just make it a lot easier and makes it possible that I can talk to some people who may be drawn in for those superficial reasons. Book of Bantorra, anyone?

Hidamari Sketch S4 – Really digging it so far. Although, as others pointed out, unless they do something with the new first years in a major way, this is going to be pretty much more of the same for another 13 episodes. What they did in episode 6 is exactly what has to happen for Nazuna and … the girl with the PC.

Jormungand S2 – Eh, it’ll do. A lot of the suspense is gone with the second season. Maybe I should write a blog post about sequels like this. And Hidasketch.

Space Bros – It’s gotten to the point where the anime just has to make one more mistake before I drop it (for the manga). Invariably it makes a mistake and I’m like, man, I don’t want to read manga, because I just don’t have that mode of consumption handy in the way my routine is. But invariably, also, Space Bros redeem itself in some minor way for me to keep putting up with it.

Psycho-Pass – I can put up with this. At least it rewards with some pretty cool ideas. And a strangled Ayanyan.

Robotics;Notes – This anime is my Yoshino Nanjou coming-out-of event. Granted at this point it’s all kept in the dark, plot-wise, so I can’t really say anything about this anime besides that it’s already seeding important details, as all non-linear narratives invariably do. I’m not sure it has given me enough to go on but I’m just blindly rolling along with Tall Robot Nerd Poplar. And is Kai a jerk? Who cares?

Magi – I think this is my top show this season. But it’s one of those “watch but don’t buy” kind of thing since the show itself is just excellent, but not something I’d obsess over. Maybe it will change and upgrade into something worth owning.

Busou Shinki – This is pretty lame. Limp, even. Especially when it’s less like Strike Witches and more like… Infinite Stratos? At least that’s how I’m watching it–for the mecha battles. The animation is what I like best, along with the tech/setting. But I’m not sure how else it appeals to the cute-girls-do-cute-things demographic. Maybe I’ll punt it after all?

K – The music is so pimp that I feel like playing Persona 4 Golden. Might punt it. And yes, this show works great as a comedy…and that’s it.

JoJo – OMG. On the other hand it’s just as I expected from David Pro.

Girls und Panzer – This show is brilliant. Not only it capitalizes on what is obvious as the concept became a thing, it did enough of a twist to make the whole venture seeming worth the while. Its ensemble-cast style organization yet focusing on a handful is a gamble ultimately, not because they’re doing that, but they better be focused on the best five girls out of that lot of dozens.

Medaka Box S2 – I guess this anime took the Negima turn? Not that I mind; Medaka makes a good protagonist, although it’s really just a 2-person show between her and Zenkichi vs. the world at this point. Not that I mind that, either.

Shin Sekai Yori – It’s the “different” anime this season, although how it’s different is unclear. I think it’s at least something interesting for a more “mainstream” audience (because it isn’t really mainstream) but this is definitely overrated. If I had to criticize it, two things–the pace is horrid and the direction and scripting is clumsy. Usually these two things cause me to drop shows, but the setting sort of redeems it. Or the underage sex, I’m not sure. I predict at least one commentator at the end of this cour will complain how it does not fully utilize its setting.

Muv-luv Alternative: Total Eclipse – Lots of BETA action in the first half. Second half is more about Total Eclipse of the Heart amirite.

Little Busters – It’s the sort of moment when you recall every Key/VA anime event you’ve personally experienced since the beginning and you go, “we’ve came a long way.” It isn’t to say the visual novel to anime mechanism has improved to the degree that those products are something worth while–maybe it has. But Little Busters was originally the concept, and now it has arrived; perhaps its only flaw was this anime existed starting after Angel Beats. None of that, however, heals its deadly pangs of boredom.

Initial D Fifth Stage – I guess no one sleeps in Tokyo in the night of fire about love and money. And I still would like to test out a FR-S/BRZ sometime.

Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo – The Pet Girl of Sakura House? Inn? Guilty Crown? I enjoy the roomful-of-lunatic approach to the series and it is very much got everyone looking at the characters as characters, and that is already a win for the anime. As usual I have a harder time buying in, but the array of otaku references makes the low production-value pill easy to swallow. [LOL I forgot about this show srsly…now it is included!]

I really want to keep watching Kamisama Kiss, but I have to drop something in exchange. I might.

At a glance you can tell Funimation is pushing a lot of new titles this season. It’s a promising thing because in the past 18 months they are major slacking on new acquisitions in my opinion, given the share of home video releases they put out. On the other hand, while I have been test driving their premium account across my phone and PC (mostly on the PC), their quality of service is still rather lacking. It’s better than just embedded Hulu streams that TAN is doing, but that’s like comparing your current self with yourself in 2002. At least I can get things to work after enough experience “jiggling” the various nobs and switches. Like how in Chrome when you change resolution to 720 it autoplays, and half the time it tries to play 2 streams in the same player if you hit the wrong buttons in the wrong in sequences.

At times like this I wish I was the kind of otaku who only watched anime off the tube, so I can cut it loose and just stick to this sort of services, paid or not.

There are three fronting shoujo series this season. Two go to CR, one to Funi and AN gets one of the two from CR. Not sure which one wins but that sounds at least fair.

Overall a pretty mild season without a smash hit, unless that boring Urobuchi show turns out to be a gem or Sakurasou becomes the second coming of Toradora. The various continuing series are all pretty strong and they will entertain, where as new series will have to flounder a bit before they find their footing. We’re at the half way point now, but I think shows like Garupan and Oniai have no real grasp on the audience at this point. Maybe that’s okay for those kinds of shows.

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Year in Review: Shafting of the Shrewd

This is really a two-fer (or three-fer): ef, Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei and Hidamari Sketch; and anime as animation, doing what it is suppose to do.

Not long ago I finished the last episode of ef – a tale of memories. It’s by far the most impressive anime of 2007. Sadly that’s just my impression and not a lasting opinion tested with time, but it was hard to deny that ef was a gimmick intended to impress. Much like Zetsubo Sensei and Hidamari Sketch, ef is the product of SHAFT, the same studio and pretty close to the same production team.

Well, except Shin Oumura, the credited director. He gave ef that touch that reminded me why Makoto Shinkai’s film will probably never break into the mainstream. Akiyuki Shinbo being the “supervising” director only contributed to how some of the scenes look. Can we say red and black railroad crossings? The other two works are Shinbo’s direct results, probably, with him labeled as the director (and who can forget his happy mug in the OP for Zetsubo Sensei?).

I can also really care much less about Sunshine Sketch’s healing properties. The serendipitous 4-koma original stuff is, I’m sure, good on its own. But that’s not here or there. The TV animation series is brilliant in how it transforms your typical manga adaptation into something unexpected, clever, but all the more expressive. And the stuff it expresses are not merely words from a book or plot points in an outline, but feelings and perspectives and attitudes. And you know Sunshine Sketch is good because, I guess, what was good to the animation staff has been transmitted through the show and to your soul! L33t haxxorz they are.

In fact, with all three series there’s this kind of connection that I see with the anime and its viewer. It’s a bridge, a protocol that transmits the beyond-mere-words content of a story to its viewer. Sure, it’s not unusual for anime to achieve this, but so few bridges are so weird and daring yet charming at the same time. It was fun.

Well. That’s that. But in the context of what’s notable in 2007, we should compare these three shows with stuff like like Denno Coil and Seirei no Moribito.

Because, lol, can you say SHOESTRING BUDGET?

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Sweet Aftertaste: A Brief Rundown of Sorts

When the episode ends with putting a smile on your face, I think that’s a good thing.

11/11 always makes me smile

Of course, sometimes it’s just a cheating cheap trick that’s doing the smirking for you. (Hello wawawa wait I forgot what show I’m mocking?) Gurren Lagann’s rather-epic end to the first 13 episodes is a good example of how to do it so honestly, on the other hand. But still, you aren’t sure if you are smiling because you know we’re going into a recap episode and jump forward in time (yay non-loli NonoNia), or because you’re still on the well-animated euphoria of good old battle robot…goodness.

On the flip side there’s this さよなら絶望先生 sort of smile. Shinbo’s show generally does that for me, although lately he’s doing it with a twist. Hidamari Sketch had those sublime and Azumanga Daioh-like moments; Negima mixes adolescent romance with some pretty cool otaku tropes, plus a bit of that Nanoha battle feel to it. But with Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei he goes back to super-overloading the basics of a simple manga adaptation to create a lot of joy for, at least, some of us. I know it’s not the sort of show everyone will enjoy, but like Soul Taker, Shinbo manages to transform a rather mundane thing into something very unique and it doesn’t terribly suck!

Sort of like Sky Girls TV, actually. Although I think, like Yin, I might have to use my fingers for that one.

On a completely unrelated subject, this is pretty cool–and you won’t see it in a street racing anime:


Top 10 Reasons Why I Am Still Watching Lucky Star Despite Not Having Finished Hidamari Sketch

She has three things

Ok, so it’s more than 3 things.

10. Loli Otaku Girl and the moe factor.

9. Humor.

8. You can download it real fast-like.

7. A Kyoani anime.

6. Pop-culture references that are not rebranded!

5. Hear songs from other anime.

4. It’s what people are talking about, you want to stay in the loop.

3. Serafuku FTW (the OP).

2. I need fansubs for Hidamari damn it!

1. Lucky Channel.

Welcoming 2007 with Love, in Pieces

No, this is not a Hidamari Sketch post, but it’s partly about that.

What’s heartfelt about Hidamari Sketch and its companion & competitor Manabi Straight is the honest appeal to something much more simple. No longer are we so concerned and focused on superficial but simply on what happens. Granted, we’re served up the same stuff, but it’s a zany one-two knockout combo. While still the jury is out on both of them and if these carry long-term sustainability, I feel they’ve gotten to the stage where finally they realize how to push the puni/moe concept.

Confession: I’ve been watching Mushishi lately, trying to catch up. It started in 2005, so I’ve had a long time to do that. It’s a good way to bring in the new year, especially since some of the episodes are very seasonal :)

And no one told me it has one of the best lolitwincest episode ever! It’s very funny and touching at the same time. If it had some irony at the end it’d be almost O Henry-like. Sigh, that would be all that took to get me watching on the get go, once I knew what kind of thing Mushishi is.

PS. Watch Catblue Dynamite if you get a chance!