The latest Free trailer has been a little bit controversial due to their choice to rotoscope the actual swimming sequences.
There’s an Anime Music competition going on, with the nomination process happening now. Go and have a look, and stand with me in hoping the opening song to Legend of Black Heaven wins the whole thing. Either that or Searching for Odin, because we need our terribad power ballads to be well represented.
Oh right yes, monthly roundup. Turns out this month the three writers have managed to finally come to an agreement on at least one of the spring anime.
Scamp: Ghost in the Shell: Arise
I wrote about Titan last month and it’s basically the only TV series I like, so thank god Ghost in the Shell came along and gives me something else to write about. It turns out a lot of the worries I had going in were unfounded. The themes of selling your body for health and work were really interesting and well delivered. The ‘getting the band together’ shtick this first episode had going on was neat fanservice for fans like myself. I was a bit unsure about the animation style because, in my mind, GITS is less fluid and more mechanical, but I got over that pretty soon when the fisticuff fights were so well choreographed. The story was a bit too confusing for its own good. Stand Alone Complex was always complicated, but Arise added in the layers of memory manipulation so what we were seeing wasn’t always real, and I don’t think they handled that part particularly well. So while the actual plot wasn’t the best the franchise has produced, it’s definitely got the heart of what makes Ghost in the Shell enjoyable. I’m pretty excited to see where the next episodes go from here.
Shinmaru: Hunter x Hunter
I’ve been trying to avoid writing about shows I’m blogging for this segment, but I can no longer do that. Hunter x Hunter has been magnificent this month, deftly shifting from horror to melancholy to heart-pounding action as required. The latest episode may have been the toughest to watch in the entire run simply due to how deeply it cuts. Even Kurapika’s brief moments of despair during the Yorkshin arc aren’t quite as affecting as Killua quietly carrying an unconscious Gon to safety as he reflects on how powerless they are at that moment. What’s most impressive is that Madhouse has achieved this level of terror and sadness while still remaining ostensibly a kids show. The creative team has skirted on the razor’s edge of what is “acceptable” while losing little impact. It’s often said that the surest way to ensure creativity is to introduce restrictions, and perhaps that is what we are seeing now.
Inushinde: Girls und Panzer Specials
Okay, I’m cheating a bit here by choosing a special, as opposed to an actual series. I almost made Muromi-san my choice for combining the best elements of dolphin violence, oarfish neglect, and drug-addled mermaids into the best finale of the season so far, but ultimately the final Girls und Panzer special proved much too spectacular to throw aside for the comparatively frumpy Muromi.
As a companion piece to my favorite show of last year (and the first half of this year), it takes its time to celebrate its characters, while poking fun at their one-note personalities in as good-hearted a fashion as I’ve come to expect. The highlight is the talent show segment, which has the more pronounced gimmick teams (history nerds, online game aficionados, student morals committee) absolutely crumble when unable to utilize their sole appeal. It’s surprisingly effective to see the oft forgotten student morals committee have to fall back on the unique talent of looking remarkably similar to each other, with the result as underwhelming as expected. Girls und Panzer has always had a good handle on just what it is, and this only reinforced it.
What’s not so hot
Scamp: Hataraku Maou-sama (and this entire season in general)
After a solid start, Maou-sama had been pretty crap since about episode 4 onwards. Episode 10 with the swimsuit episode was the final straw. The characters had been getting increasingly stupider to stop the plot from ever moving and maintain the status quo. The jokes had long since stopped being funny and focusing more and more on how gormless Maou had become. I dropped Maou-sama after that, but that episode left me with residual feelings of anger so when I looked at what else I was planning to watch that week, I realised how little I wanted to watch basically any of them. Valvrave, Majestic Prince, even Space Bros was finally kicked from my watching list. This season has royally sucked. Thank god the summer season is finally here.
Shinmaru: Hataraku Maou-sama
Once again I find myself in the position of not particularly hating anything I watched, so I must write about something I didn’t quite enjoy as much as other shows. (And I’d rather not repeat myself regarding Gargantia.) The main spark of comedy in the beginning of the series is the fish out of water scenario with Maou, Ashiya and Emi carving out mundane lives for themselves after knowing nothing but grand fantasy their whole lives. That element remains to a certain extent in the second half, but it doesn’t have quite the same bite to it, and the fantasy elements are largely uninteresting to me. The show tries to have its cake and it eat, too, by developing this serious fantasy stuff but undermining it by concluding the conflicts in silly ways. Personally, I enjoy the silly endings; the buildup is what bores me.
Inushinde: Hataraku Maou-sama
Wow, three entries for Maou-sama here. I’m with Shinmaru in thinking that Maou-sama isn’t an explicitly terrible show– just explicitly disappointing. Even when it’s wallowing in its highly mediocre fantasy element, there’s still hints of a real gem hidden beneath the needless swords and sorcery. But therein lies the problem; they’re only hints, nothing that ever builds Maou-sama into a true standout for the season. There are many good ideas at play here, and the comedy is heads above everything else but Muromi for the season, but it just doesn’t try very much to make itself cohesive. Whenever I think that it really isn’t that bad, I remember that there could have been an episodes-long, fantasy-themed duel between two rival fast food chains.