Friday, January 28, 2011

Winter, 2011 TV anime reviews

We're now fairly well into the new Winter season, and it's becoming easier to decide which shows I really want to watch. In effect, there are 50-60 shows on per week, many of the that have been running for a long time (Bleach, Dragon Ball Kai, Naruto) and others that are in long-run reruns (Gaeru, Touch, Inuyasha). Most of them I don't feel like watching. I've been following the ones that are new this season just because there's always a chance that one could be a surprise break-out. But, at 25 minutes per show, and roughly 30 hours of anime per week, there's bound to be some pruning. As it is, there are 10 shows that I'm still taping, and a few more than may be taken off the record schedule eventually.

>>>Monday

Level E : A-
Now, this one's off the wall. Level E is based on a manga that ran in the 1990's, from the artist of Yu Yu Hakusho and HunterxHunter. The original was only 16 chapters long. The new anime series has completely new character designs that don't look anything like Yu Yu Hakuso. A high school baseball player moves to the countryside to start at a new school, in an apartment of his own. Only to discover that an alien has decided to share the room with him. Over time, the school student starts realizing that this handsome-looking man really is a hideous alien monster in disguise, and that he's not the only such one on the planet. The artwork's good, the story is weird, and the character designs are almost on the "pretty boy" shojo level. Worth monitoring to see where the story goes.

Oniichan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki ja Nai n da kara ne!! : C
If you want soft-core hentai, here's your show. Junior high school girl has a mjor crush on her older brother and manipulates him in a tsundere fashion. One day, she goes through his room and finds a family photo album. She's not in any of the photos, and it turns out that she's adopted... The character designs are cartoony and stylistic, the joke setups are predictable and obvious. Mostly seems to be just a school sitcom.

Dragon Crisis : B+
Dragon Crisis, like about half of the anime this season, is based on "a series of light novels". Light novels are typically short novellas (40,000-50,000 words) aimed at the 13- to 17-year-old range (similar to the target audience for Shonen Jump). So, you know the stories aren't going to get very deep or earth-shattering. Having said that, Dragon Crisis starts out pretty well. Ryuuji is a normal school student who has a couple of friends, plus one female classmate that is too shy to tell him that she has a crush on him. One day, Ryuuji's second cousin, Erika, pulls him out of school to pull a heist on a black market gang in order to obtain a jewel called Most Precious. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the case they grab includes a small blonde-haired girl they name Rose, who is attached to the jewel. A red pattern on her left hand gives her away as a Red Dragon. Rose starts out as having a one-word vocabulary - "Ryuuji", but she does start picking up other words fast after watching TV. Then the scientists and military get involved as expected and the other Dragons start showing up. A fairly light-hearted romp that starts out promisingly.

>>>Tuesday

Rio Rainbow Gate : C-
I've seen pachinko machines that have been based on anime (Urusei Yatsura, Lupin III, Fist of the North Star) but this is the first time I've heard of the other way around. Rio is a "goddess of victory", a dealer at a casino. Her presence brings good luck to the other gamblers. It's a T&A series that features over-the-top head-to-head gambling matches with a fair amount of silly magic effects thrown in. Rio is kind of a super woman, with mad martial arts skills along with big breasts and a cute face. Unfortunately, the story isn't interesting enough to justify watching this.

Freezing : C-
Freezing is based Japanese manga written and drawn by two Korean manwha artists (manwha is the term for Korean comics). I've never been a fan of manwha, which has always struck me as testosterone-driven and having stiff character poses. If I don't know it's manwha, I do have a tendency to be more tolerant of artwork that I consider "un-manga-like", but not if I know that it's not Japanese in origin. Anyway, Earth is invaded by aliens, probably leftovers from Level E, and genetically-altered big-breasted women, called "Pandoras" and their big-muscled male partners, called "Limiters", fight back. The series is based at an academy for training the Earthling fighters, and is mostly just an uninspired school-girl rivalry storyline. Got to wonder why the women's battle costumes feature flimsy clothing and dresses that show the panties underneath during combat... The production qualities are good, but the catfight cliches making Freezing not worth watching for me.

Jidou Sports : C-
Simplified-design animals compete in various sports events for slapstick effect. Only worth watching if you like mixes of SD Gundam and Wacky Races.

Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? : B+
I translate this as "Is this a zombie?", but the
wiki page uses "Are you a zombie?" This is another light novel, that has been given 3 different manga adaptations. What we have here is a high school harem comedy involving a zombie, a necromancer, a cosplaying witch and a vampire ninja. Ayumu was the victim of a serial killer, and was brought back to life by Eucliwood Hellsythe. He's currently trying to find out who his killer was, and surviving the murderous onslaughts of the women that start gathering around him. The story is a little slow in taking off, but it is funny often enough to justify continued monitoring.

>>>Wednesday

No unique comments.

>>>Thursday

Fractale : B-
This is a weird fantasy mix of "Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind" and "Nadia, Secret of Blue Water". The character artwork is inconsistent, and the action at the beginning is implausible (such as when the search ship chases closely after the girl's hoverjet, and yet the search crew fails to see where she falls from just a few yards away). The coincidence between the hero finding an obscure SD card holding vital data on the "Fractale system", and the appearance of the girl is just way too contrived. The entire set-up reeks of an RPG game opening. Boy meets girl, girl disappears, boy spends entire series looking for girl. The show does have its moments, so I will keep monitoring it, but it is difficult to suspend disbelief for this series.

Hourou Musuko : B
Two kids with confused gender identities become friends. Not my kind of story.

Infinite Stratos : B+
As a harem anime, Infinite Stratos doesn't start out too badly. Ichika Orimura is the only male student at the otherwise all-female academy that teaches the usage of the Infinite Stratos exoskeleton combat suit. His homeroom teacher is his older sister, an IS user games champion, and one of his classmates is a girl that used to be in his kendo class 6 years earlier. Between the ones that know and want to crush him, and the rest of the girls that want to date him, Ichika may not make it past the first year alive.

Yume Kue Merry : A-
Dream Eater Merry starts out pretty good, but there's little on this series in English outside of what's starting to show up now that the series has begun on TV. Fujiwara is a school boy that has been able to see various auras around other people, when he puts his mind to it. Lately, he's been having nightly dreams about being chased by cats. One day, a girl in a goth-loli outfit falls on him and loses her hat. When Fujiwara picks it up, he finds himself back in the dream world, suddenly facing a Spawn-like masked figure with a red cape and cat ears, who talks about taking over Fujiwara's body to enter the real world. The goth-loli girl shows up in the dream, calling herself Merry, and fights the villain. It turns out to be a draw, and Merry revels herself to be someone with no knowledge of who they are.

Occult Academy : A
Reruns of the series that originally aired between July and Sept., 2010. Strong opening, lots of fun. Real Ghost Busters meets the Three Stooges.

>>>Friday

Genesis of Aquarion : C
I don't do giant robots, and this weird mix of Evangelion and Gundam is too silly for me. Further, it's just reruns of the earlier 2005 series. I may continue sampling it over the next few weeks, but I doubt I'll watch it to the end. Great visuals, dumb jokes.

Gosick : B
Sherlock Holmes manifests as a Goth-loli. Gosick is a mystery series where, in 1924, a Japanese exchange student in the Alps around France discovers a mysterious girl in gothic clothing, who is consulted by her policeman brother to solve crimes. While Gosick comes across as a kiddies series, in terms of character designs and slapstick setups, it runs late at night as a more adult title. In any case, the background artwork is good, and the show does have its moments sometimes. Worth monitoring to see if it ever gets any better.

Magical Girl Madoka Magika : B
Madoka starts out as a regular 2nd year school girl, with 2 good parents and a baby brother, in a really nice house, and a comfortable life. Her primary attribute is that she's fairly timid, but that's compensated for by having two stronger friends. One night, she has a dream where a couragous girl is fighting monsters. The next day, the same girl shows up in school as a transfer student. This student is smart, athletic and rather threatening. Later, a strange white rabbit-like creature calls Madoka telepathically for help, drawing both Madoka and one of her friends into a nightmare, where the transfer student is trying to kill the rabbit. From this point, Madoka and her friends have the opportunity to become "magical girls". In a way, "Magika" is along the lines of Sailor Moon, but with much darker settings. The character designs have a tendency to look cartoonish and childish, but the backgrounds and fight settings are really good. And some of the mood music is also good. This show has potential.

>>>Saturday

Chisui-Maru
Seems to be a badly-drawn sitcom featuring old, fat vampires.

>>>Sunday

Valkyria Chronicles : B-
Reruns of the series that ran from April to Sept., 2009. 26 episodes. Starts out weak, with the main female character acting like a power-mad airhead.

Mitsudomoe Zoryochu! : B+
Mitsudomoe Zoryochu! is the second season of the Mitsudomoe series, which is in turn based on the gag manga by Norio Sakurai. It revolves around the fantasies and school lives of the Marui triplet 6th graders, and occasionally includes Satoshi Yabe, their new teacher, plus the school nurse he falls in love with. The first episode is a parody of action team shows like Power Rangers. Very silly, but not something I want to watch all the time.

What I'm still watching:
Level E
Dragon Crisis
Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka?
Fractale
Yume Kue Merry
Occult Academy
Gosick
Soul Eater
Only the World God Knows
Meitantei Conan


However, I'm wavering over whether to stop watching:
Meitantei Conan - the artwork and animation has gotten really bad, and the stories are more stupid than before.
Gosick - Just a little too silly. The artwork and story are good, but some of the characters are really dumb.
Fractale - This one doesn't seem to know what become; a fantasy adventure or a harem chase story.

2 comments:

Bunny said...

I'm enjoying Fractale (mainly for the OP) and Freezing (for all the wrong reasons, Satellizer needs to whack some sense into that whiny git!)

Then there's Madoka Magica, which is like nursery schoolgirls drop acid.

korezom seems about the only interesting one.

Probably the most fun is BEELZEBUB, which has naked men running around, but not doing zo-san tricks like ta-chan ^^;

Fundamentally, the Jan-Apr season is limp, Maybe the new academic year will have something.

TSOTE said...

My work schedule has changed on me and I haven't been able to watch anime in over a week. I need to catch up on Fractale and Occult Academy.

Tried watching Beelzebub, but I like the manga better.