New season and new anime. No longer can we rely on Shinmaru giving the What’s Hot reward to Hunter X Hunter every other week. He has to give the award to something new and not to another long-running franchise….can he?
Scamp: Rage of Bahamut
This is how a good adventure anime should be. The comparisons to Pirates of the Caribbean only made more sense after episode 4 basically was a Pirates anime. Although to bring a more anime example to the table, its adventure story focus of starting on a small scale while hinting at something much bigger that it will slowly build to over the course of the series reminds me of Last Exile. It nails everything from the tone to the characters. It’s entertaining and exciting while focusing on a core cast of varied and interesting characters with unique and distinct personalities that are fun to watch go about their business. The story may be nothing to write home about as of now, but when it delivers so fully in every other area it doesn’t matter quite so much.
Shinmaru: Gundam Build Fighters Try
Partially because I love robot fighting so very much, and partially because I’ve fallen way behind on anime due to work and watching horror movies on my off days. We’re still in the “slow” part of Build Fighters, where the main team works out its troubles and the other major players are being introduced. I generally like how Team Try Fighters is being built. Sekai and Yuuma are both strong but have their own specific problems with adaptation — Sekai’s fighting style doesn’t work everywhere, and Yuuma greatly dislikes Sekai and has a tough time working with him. I’m looking forward to Fumina’s story most, however. She’s clearly being placed in the underdog position, with people condescendingly overlooking her in favor of her male teammates despite Fumina being generally smart and able to work with the both of them well. She’ll get some huge moments before the end of the series. While this is going on, Build Fighters still has the same fun energy and entertaining robot fights as the first season. I’m all in.
Inushinde: Amagi Brilliant Park
Of all the shows airing this season, I did not expect the one about Kanye West and 50 Cent saving a failing amusement park from foreclosure to be what I most look forward to watching every week. Though given that explanation, I probably should have. Yes, it still stars high school students, or rough analogues of such, but it’s not so much a glorification of the high school experience as it is a harsh reminder that even fantasy creatures living a subsistence existence have to pay the bills. But where it’s made is in the details (the cutesy mascots all being exceedingly violent or lusty), and a sense of comic timing that’s criminally uncommon for the medium. The attempts at giving its characters depth through serious moments are often just baffling, but more often than not Amaburi chooses to coast on its sense of humor, and that’s enough for me.
What’s not so hot
Scamp: Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Boring Words
I blame myself for this. I got sucked in by all the hype. I’d somehow conveniently forgotten that the only part of Fate/Zero I consistently liked were Rider and Waver. So much of the rest were boring dullards standing around using too many words to describe simple things. But if anything they’ve gotten even worse with Unlimited Boring Words. The double episode length appears to have only created even more pap. The first two episodes, each of which were 40 minutes long, could have been easily condensed into 20 minutes. What was the point of the characters wandering around school before anything actually happened? To establish each character? There surely has to be an easier, shorter and less boring way of doing it. Do people who like this show really think that more dialogue = better dialogue? It’s awful! It’s hideously awful and I hope no other anime thinks this is the correct way of doing things.
Shinmaru: The Idolmaster movie
To be clear, I did enjoy the movie. It’s pleasant the way the TV series is, and there’s some real nice animation, including some small, subtle things that took me by surprise. But there are a couple of big problems that really bugged me. The basic setup for the movie is OK: The idols, who have become a more confident bunch after overcoming their various trials and working hard, take a group of backup dancers under their wing in preparation for their biggest concert yet. However, what happens is that just one of the dancers gets a real story, and the others are just there to be there. That one story is a decent story, mind; I’m a sucker for folks overcoming confidence and self-image issues. But it feels like there’s a lot of effort put into making the audience care about the other dancers that doesn’t work out at all. The closest any of them gets to a personality is the one who’s the asshole. Even that is half-assed. It’s strange, because the movie’s other big problem is that it’s way too long. It’s fine the first 45 minutes and then drags horribly until it’s time to pay off the main dancer’s story. It’s frustrating because this movie could be a lot of fun and often is … but then I spend so much time wishing I were watching one of the teaser movies instead. (I would give so much for the Idolmaster super robot movie.)
This month’s iteration of What’s Not So Hot is less “Denki-gai is terrible” and more “I know you can do better, Denki-gai, so stop the free-form panty rants and get back to being surprisingly pleasant”. The show has a problem in that it’s sweet when it wants to be, but puts a good amount of misplaced effort into turning its female characters into objects of ridicule. Of course sexuality isn’t inherently bad (and most of the show is in service of normalizing certain proclivities), but Denki-gai occasionally devolves into making its female characters uneasy, then making their validated unease something to laugh at. It’s pretty watchable otherwise, so these already big flaws are all the more glaring for how much they affect everything else.