Category Archives: Muv-luv

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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You Had Me at Episode 3: Summer 2012

Coming in, I thought this season is a weak season. But after looking around, it’s probably not that bad; maybe even slightly over average. It’s not as great as last season for sure, but looking around I see a lot of bloggers thinking this season is weak. I don’t know. If we throw all these shows on the wall and see which sticks, there might be an average amount of winners in that bunch. Wish times like this I have a magical power that summons empirical studies of whatever at my command. Like, “Magical makeup! Summon science!” [Of course, if you are one of those people who think Fujiko was the best anime last season and only one worth watching, you can save us some time and just go die in a fire.]

I’m ordering this by no order, and shows I don’t list are either ongoing, dropped before I get to 3, or in a couple cases, I didn’t even try them. Hopefully I didn’t miss anything [edit: now that I added Joshiraku].

  • Jinrui wa Suitaishimashita: Thumb up. Solid satire with some bite, and easy to go down like all good satire. So good, I can do episodic, and tempted to do so!
  • Total Eclipse: Thumbs missing. My initial impression of Muv-luv Alternative: Total Eclipse was actually this “pervy” figure of Cryska, followed by Yui with a SMG. You can tentacle some armada if you are interested in more details, plus some backdrop to the Total Eclipse story. I got my first real piece of the action at AX where we got backed-to-back episodes one and two right after a Kurinoko/ayami performance. I think I liked that more. But to be fair, the first episode after the two set-up episodes felt like kind of like this, where it’s trying to “throw back” to a Top Gun-ish narrative. I’m going to wait to episode 5 before really risking for a call since to me the story didn’t quite begin until ep3.
  • Tari-Tari: Thumb up. It paves its own path, which is reason enough to watch if you are interested in the subject matter at all. Looks sharp and entertaining for the most part; just waiting for the story to gel and the CDs to come out.
  • Oda Nobuna no Yabou: Thumb up. Probably the one dark horse anime this season. It’s surprising competent, production-wise. Studio Gokumi x Madhouse = woah. Kanae’s performance props the show up as much as the good pace things are going. Its only drawback is that some prerequisite knowledge about history through the games really helps your enjoyment.
  • Campione: Thumb down. The only things going for it are the delicious fanservice and voice cast. The concept could be interesting but it’s executed in a very dull way.
  • Kokoro Connect: Thumb up. Character drama needs good acting and we have it. I feared Hisako Kanemoto would be the weakest link but with the Yui episode come and gone, she actually did a pretty good job. The animation seems like that knock-off Kyoani style but there’s nothing offensive about it.
  • Sword Art Online: Thumb down. I don’t like it but it’s a compelling watch. The production value is nice and I can empathize with the grief…as in, oh hey you just got trained sort of grief. Or in episode 3’s case, some one in their guild went Leeroy. I suspect though at the end of the series that might become true for actual viewers of this anime, at least the griefing part. The best strategy is to enjoy what little kernels of joy each episode provide you now, rather than later.
  • Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru: Thumb down. Nakaimo is a trash show you can drop but it’s definitely the one good trash show out of the rest of the trash show this season. Main credit for being interesting in terms of plot and presentation. Conceptually it is way worse than most shows this season…if not THE worse. Which also is a credit to its favor if you look at it the other way.
  • Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate: Thumb down. I like this show’s approach to politics and elections but it’s not going to cut it. Only for harem/visual novel types (eg., this is kind of trashy). Not thrilled about the art style, but it does the job. I’ll probably end up watching it LOL.
  • Dakara Boku wa, H ga Dekinai: Thumb down. Sorry to say, Aya Endo fans, but this is worse than QB season 3 I think.
  • Natsuyuki Rendezvous: Thumb up. Why? Because I like the persistent take from the NTR angle. It really juices up this otherwise kind of boring josei fantasy. I’m also impressed how it can fit both manservice and womanservice in that tidy package. Kou Matsuo and his crew aside, it’s back to the basics of noitaminA, which is usually worth at least a look.
  • Binbougami ga: Thumb up. Another show with a potentially downward outlook, the opening episodes have a big impact but it’s the kind of show that often will settle into a pattern and it’ll get repetitive quick. I won’t be surprised if I end up dropping this show in a few weeks. It’s good to hear Hanazawa in an unusual role but I’m not a big fan of this performance. Toilet-level slapstick comedy, however, scratches my itch. It’s like the companion piece of Jintai.
  • Hagure Yuusha no AESTHETICA: Thumb down. Speaking of toilet humor, this one reached bottom first. I think I probably would enjoy this show if it can crank up the level of ridiculous over time, but that also means this show is not for most people. Perhaps if it looked better, a few of the more voracious viewers would give it a chance and get as far as the Kanatan-voiced, stoic-dere loli character….which is to say, yeah, you’re not missing much. If you’re on the Kana Ueda yuri-kei train of thought, though, consider Hagure Yuusha that bullet train from Yuriseijin taking you to heaven. If you like the populist nonsense in this show…well don’t get too serious.
  • Utakoi: Thumb up. Because it’s kind of the dirty josei/shoujo stuff some of you like, but also it’s better than average for its category (edutainment). I probably should drop it, but given how all the shows I want to watch airs between Thursday and Sunday, it fits into those empty Tuesday-Wednesday slots.
  • Joshiraku: Thumb up. I have a soft spot for the stuff that goes on in the ED, but that aside, the jokes tend to come at a good clip and enough of them hit. And sure, I like the girls enough, but more as people than as cute girls. (Are they even cute? Even Kigu?) I realized I can enjoy enough of the jokes raw (which is to say, not very many at all) but the tedious buildup to the punchline makes the whole thing not fun when you’re mired with the not-funny stuff. So I guess dropping this show would be the thing to do if the fansubs stop.

I think that’s it. Other shows of note:

  • Eureka 7 Ao: Episode 12-13 kicks things up a gear, which is sooner than the first series. The setting plays a bigger role than ever, which is nice for long-time fans. I wonder if they can actually tie this in with Xam’d setting-wise wwwwww.
  • Rinne no Lagrange: In Stellvia we have the group-cry episode. Now we have the group-yuri episode. Thanks, Tatsuo Sato. At least you are consistent!
  • Space Brothers: Yawn.
  • Yuru Yuri: Yawn♪♪
  • Sengoku Collection: At least I have no idea what the next episode is going to be about! But it’s getting kind of boring, at least in the past month; they need to spice stuff up.
  • Moyashimon Returns: Put me in the camp of people who think season 1 was special and season 2 is missing that special something. Nonetheless it is still a decent watch.
  • Dog Days: Hopefully season 2 will way surpass season 1. So far it has. But I’m not watching this show~
  • Accel World: I was hoping to see this plot concept earlier, but I guess it’s okay to have this story now.
  • Hyouka: Still really dull, even if the school festival episodes have been really a treat.
  • Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere 2: The barometer is, “will I doze off during any of their long exposition/tirades?” If yes, it’s a so-so episode; if no, it is a good episode.  So far the count is about 1 to 2 and I suspect by the end of season 2 it’ll come close to even.

And I’m still watching Sket Dance. It’s still my type of humor.

PS. What is amazing (again) is that other than Hyouka and Joshiraku, every show on this list is getting a North American “stream.” (Funi’s 2 new shows aside, which I presume they will play catch up at some point in the very near future.) I wonder why…

PPS. I’m actually keeping up with over 20 shows at the moment. And I thought it would get better after last season….time to cutcutcutcut. I guess I did with AKB0048 already…

PPPS. Yep I missed a show. To make up for it, here are some links to peeps from GG and their notes on Joshiraku. It’s pretty fun to read. Check it out.

PPPPS. I went back and watched Joshiraku 3 and slotted it in. And removed Ebiten because, well, it’s just clutter at this point. So yeah. By the way, Ebiten HP is LOLs.

Books And Covers, Summer 2012

From a consumption perspective we can look at our intake of anime like a diet, where some semblence of balance and moderation go a long way to make what you watch more enjoyable. But that’s kind of not applicable to describe the voracious: people like me, who are always following a dozen or more shows at any given time. The episodic grind, to some, probably parallels more to a race. Each racer is some title and whoever makes it to the end, in first place, wins. I find this survival-of-the-fittest paradigm easy to latch to real-life practice. Take AX weekend–the 5-day ordeal significantly limits my anime intake. It happens to take place at the week where a lot of shows are ending and some shows are starting, so I have a slimmed pool of finales to choose from. Those I reach for first (in this case Tsuritama if you wondered) “wins” this figurative race.

Honestly, both analogies sound like jokes from Jintai as human society declines through its overly sophisticated detachment from reality and greed-based irreverence of consequences, from commercialism to consumerism. Anime is not created for the sake of people consuming anime, right? Chicken are not born because people would eat them, right?

Where is my sentient toupee?

I think people who are capable of this kind of introspection will get a kick out of Humanity Has Declined, or Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita. Or just Jintai. Mai Nakahara’s wry delivery is dry and grit-free like the pastel artwork and children’s storybook-style designs, evoking enough of a dissonance once the viewer gets beyond its seemingly candy shell. Or in this case, chicken skin.

PA Work’s next original high school rom-com Tari Tari does not disappoint. Granted, I didn’t expect very much of it going in–much like how I didn’t expect very much of True Tears at first–but so far the show simply has a mind of its own and blazes its own path. The characters remind me of my friend Vinny, who does not take whining for an answer and would only bitchslap someone in his head, not in real life. (Let alone on the butt.) In this case Sawa-chan is a superior creation worthy of his adoration. I, on the other hand, find the entire experience on the oddish side of things and, as Hyouka would have it, 気になります. Also, you do note that Sawa is treating Konatsu like her equine friend, right, with that “pat on the back”? I guess that is C83 material.

I did watch the first two episodes of Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse at Anime Expo, so with episode 2 now airing this past weekend I can spoil some beans. Well, first off, it was not a huge shock that we’re rid of Yui’s friends, but it’s kind of gruesome. The real show doesn’t start until episode 3, so I really have nothing to offer here besides a good luck to those of you braving the games as a result of the anime adaptation. Oh, I guess I really like Kuribayashi’s ending theme. Finally something that doesn’t sound like every song she does.

Oda Nobuna no Yabou so far is inoffensive. Any show with Kanetomo-sensei deserves at least 3. That said I’ve only dropped one show thus far after 1. But watching 2 concurrent shows featuring warring-state generals as nubile anime girls may be too much; we shall see. At least in Nobuna’s show there are plenty of dudes, even old ones. Having at least tried my hand at the game (oh gosh which platform was it IDK), the whole thing is not entirely unfamiliar.

I dropped the Chiaki Kon-directed La storia della Arcana Famiglia, because Mamiko might be the only thing worth watching for me in the show. The lead girl is a bit too much like a typical reverse-harem lead. It’s not my sort of thing anyway.

If I needed more crappy Italian riffage, there’s Yoko Hikasa in Campione! if you swing the other way. Action, fanservice, a bit of a potato-kun action, it’s not much to riff on, actually. At least there’s some car-service. I mean, seriously, let’s put the “sha” in itasha. Or Pikasha for that matter. A bit of a personal anecdote: On Friday, I picked up this month’s Super Dash & Go! for the Yoko Hikasa photoshoot. I didn’t realize she was actually wearing some Campione-inspired outfit in that shoot until I saw the first episode about 12 hours later. Great way to leverage that 2.5D stuff in your mix-media focused mag, yeah? I think they’re doing it right if I am buying this magazine. Which now means I can take a look at how horrible the new ROD reboot is.

I rather enjoyed Kokoro Connect. It doesn’t look as stunning as, say, Hyouka, but if Hyouka was half as interesting as Kokoroco it would already be the show of the year. That said, Kokoro Connect is also an off-beat piece, and besides the plot device that makes me kind of cringe on the inside, I don’t see anything wrong with it. The voice cast is solid and I think they’re set up for some pretty cool drama. My only real concern is just how will they handle the humorous streaks…so far it’s kind of too subdued for my liking. If you can get through Natsukise, this is easy-peasy.

Like Jintai, I enjoyed Utakoi in a real-life kind of way. It’s by far the most educational anime I’ve seen in recent memory. However unlike Jintai, Utakoi just makes me cringe half the time. Plus, traditional love stories are usually not that funny; in that sense I applaud the show’s attempt to spiffy them up for entertainment. It’s way more palatable than Folktales from Japan.

Natsuyuki Rendezvous is a solid romance that represents the rock noitaminA is built upon. I’ll keep along; the Kuo Matsuo direction + Ken Muramatsu music combination is easy to go along with. Too bad I get the feeling there won’t be a spontaneous musical episode? As long as it’s not too sappy. The NTR joke is well-done.

So, I Can’t Play H is not quite the same as Dakara Boku wa, H ga Dekinai, so “I Can’t Do H” sounds much better. There’s a lot of plain nudity in this show; it’s kind of the schtik (in a High School DxD sort of way). I admit the “transformation” scene when the fire burns away Risara’s clothes is pretty cool actually. But is it cool in a “LOL Guilty Crown” sort of way or “LOL Queen’s Blade” sort of way? I think it might be the latter. Aya Endo lending her voice probably does not help.

Sword Art Online is probably my least favorite new show this season. It’s way too chuu2. From what I understand the first episode is just set-up, so I’m perfectly happy to give it three. So far there are little else that bothers me about the show, but nothing grabs me either. I guess with Accel World airing at the same time, I have another source to tap into that fantasy genre-turned-shounen-formula. The plot and device of SAO is better fit for a joke than anything actually intriguing. I mean, how can people take it seriously? I enjoy the jokes way more than the anime thus far. Like the one about Korea. Or Brazil. Or China.

Nakaimo is… WHO IS IMOUTO? THERE IS A SISTER AMONG US. Who is imouto indeed! I mean, this. It’s a harem anime this time, straight-up with the Mom character saying “Dude, bag a girl, get married, win your massive inheritance, you’re already deemed talented enough.” It’s not my favorite sort of setup for harem, but I’m going to take it like a man for Jtor here.

Koichoco is short for Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate, which means love, election and chocolate. It makes no sense unless you watch the show. I guess going in the show I know it only by name and by heritage, which is to say I was expecting something closer to this. But I should’ve known better and see it may be more like this. Well, the voice cast is intriguing so I’ll give it a spin. Most likely I’ll be entirely off base anyway, why fret?

That’s it for now. Meanwhile I’l leave you some food for thought about the decline of humanity.

PS. I was going to link it for the Tsuritama post, but odP’s PV about fishing that debuted at AX is appropriate in the decline of humanity sort of way.