There is actual news this month, but none of it is particularly interesting. Funimation are teaming up with Nico Nico to provide streaming anime, but they’re not available outside of North America. The live action Hollywood version of Akira is apparently A Thing instead of threatening to become A Thing, but I don’t feel like saying anything about that because the nerdrage over its existence is so great it has become stupid. So instead I’ll just post a picture of a certain satellite that crashed upon a certain building in Akihabara recently.
A- Future Diary
I have been trying to hold back my rampant fanboyism in my Future Diary episodic posts, so I’m not sure if the extent to which I fucking love this show is apparent. It’s the perfect blend of fast paced, over the top, thriller/horror that made me fall in love with Death Note so much. It has a cast of memorable characters so psychotic they’d put the cast of Baccano to shame. This isn’t the Deadman Wonderland kind of psychotic either, where they like killing a lot and have a stupid catchphrase. No, these characters have motives and driving morals behind their particular brand of insanity. Perhaps an A- is a bit high, but I’m so glad this show exists that it can get me by the small niggles, like some dodgy animation and some completely ridiculous plot twists.
B Persona 4
It’s a shame my two favourite anime from the season appear to have rather minimal budgets. While Future Diary gets by with some masterful directing, Persona 4 overcomes its budget deficit by just being really damn cool. I’ve never considered yellow to be a cool colour, because it’s the same colour as bananas and there’s nothing in the world as uncool as a banana. But Persona 4 has won me over to the lemon hued tone of the world. But it’s more than the sulfur shaded tint that I like about Persona 4 (ooh look at me, I can look up synonyms on the internet!). It has surprisingly sharp sense of humour, a rather agreeable approach to confronting your less likable parts of your own personality, and best of all, the greatest opening song of the year by far.
B- Mawaru PenguinDrum
While PenguinDrum still can hold the claim that it is never boring, this last batch of episodes have gotten on my nerves a touch. Compare them to the Ringo arc from earlier this season. Each episode there felt like it was building up, the shocks at the end of the episodes getting greater as it progressed. The twists now simply feel like PenguinDrum is desperately trying to hold our attention by adding shock value, with no build up to these twists. You don’t need to shock me PenguinDrum, I’m plenty entertained by your story as it is. Also the Ringo arc slowly built up several stories at once, revealing more of the characters motivations. PenguinDrum has now lost that touch, choosing the focus on characters in a totally random fashion. It’s still entertaining, but it has lost its structure.
B- Invasion Squid Girl
This season of Squid Girl is largely the same as the previous season, but there are a few squiddle differences. One new aspect I don’t like is the apparent desire to add a moral to every story. The power of friendship, the love of saving people, and so on and so forth. I like Squid Girl best when its goofy stories have messages along the lines of ‘giving up an addiction is futile because you will just fall back into the habit again’ or ‘you will die before your pets, leaving them alone and unloved forever more’. This season does seem to be making me laugh easier than last season though. Whether this is down to sharper jokes or me just being in a better mood is up for debate, but no anime has made me laugh harder this year than episode 4 did.
Fate/Zero is a really mixed bag. I could write an entire post on the negative parts of the show. The Dragonball Z- esque dragging out nature of their fights as the characters spend their time waving their egos around is dull, as are the exposition dumps, which have thankfully disappeared after that first episode for the most part. On the flip side though, the characters are varied and entertaining with enough depth to make me care about then. The animation is glorious (that is, when the characters aren’t just staring at each other from across a shipyard). I’d like to think the more we go on, the more of the kinks get ironed out, because Fate/Zero does have the potential to be a great show. Just please less of the exposition and dull willy-waving duels.
B- Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing
Gonzo haven’t shat the bed…yet. Which I guess is something we should be pleased about, but it hasn’t exactly been riveting stuff either. Oh sure, the animation upgrade is wonderful and the political scenario on display is intriguing. But the attempts at characterisation have been shallow. Fam is the dullest so far, a worrying factor considering she’s the main character and all. There’s no depth, she just charges into everything. If we take the Persona 4 character personality eyecatch stat meter, Fam would have full Courage and nothing in every other area. The white haired villain is already a more interesting character. Funny how Last Exile did the Char-esque character better than the token Gundam series of the season did.
Episode 3 was a massive improvement on the first two. It did everything I wanted Un-Go to do. Introduce us to the scenario, a small set of characters and each of their potential motives for the murder. Give us time for the mystery to stew in our heads, letting the characters argue amongst each other as small bits of evidence comes to the table, tieing up the mystery with the overall world story. Allow us to suspect each and every one of the characters before totally blindsiding me with the actual answer, yet one that makes perfect sense in context. But apparently the answer to episode three was really obvious to all you genre savvy clever clogs out there? I guess I’m just thick because I haven’t been able to predict the answer to any of the mysteries so far, despite every single episode having several people say the answer was totally obvious.
I thought I would like Chihayafuru a lot more than I do. I quite liked the main character after the first episode, but she quickly became irritating with every eternally good-natured line of dialogue that sprouted from her. The problem with all her good natured lines is they simply cover the exact same point that had already been established. Even when she grew up, this nature of the show didn’t change. It’s not just Chihaya either. We get it, bishie childhood friend. She fucking loves Karuta. We’ve spent quite literally the entire episode establishing that point. This may sound like me hate-mongering, but the reason I’m not getting into Chihayafuru is because it’s more shojo than josei. It’s not bad by any stretch, I just wish it would stop having so much redundant content.
C- Hunter X Hunter
I’m being patient with Hunter X Hunter because I’m still waiting for the apparent “IT GETS BETTER I SWEAR” part. Thankfully it hasn’t been a chore to watch, but I’m still not seeing anything that makes it worthwhile. The varied character designs might be interesting to look at, but it means this show has no coherent aesthetic. There’s no ‘Hunter X Hunter look’ that draws you into the show. The total randomness of the rules of the world means its impossible to predict what’s going to come, which makes every twist feel like the author pulled it out of their ass. So many characters randomly dying reduces the effect of any scene that’s apparently meant to be thrilling and dangerous. At the moment, the only part I like is the flamenco music that kicks in whenever Hisoka takes the stage, because I keep imagining him whipping out the castanets.
C- Guilty Crown
There is some genuine promise in Guilty Crown’s story. The main problem is episode 2 happened. That episode was one of the most head-smashingly retarded pieces of anime I have ever seen and every episode from henceforth will be tasked with fixing the numerous problems that episode threw out. Episode 3 did a decent start, fixing up why Gai knew Shu would drag out a shield gun thing, but the problems still outweigh the plus points. Why does the power that seems to symbolise friendship require the character to metaphorically rape them to reach to their heart? Why is Inori such a bland dull blob of ultimate servitude? Why did the writer decide a Geass knock off would be sufficient to drag in a new audience? Oh well, at least it still looks pretty.
D+ Phi Brain
Despite its ridiculous premise, I can almost hear an editor from Bakuman standing over the production. “We need a rival here. Yes, he looks good, but make his hair spikier. Ooh, we also need a love interest. What does she do? Well she’s a girl so obviously she can’t solve the puzzles because girls are stupid, so just make her follow the main character about a bit”. The grandstanding with dramatic puzzles might be over the top, but it only lies over an incredibly bland core story. It feels like a DS game adaptation, one of those ones where you speed over the dialogue so you can get to the next puzzle. In short, the puzzles are what we’re here for, and Phi Brain doesn’t have the courtesy to show us the damn things.
I liked the lingo introduced in episode 2, with the boars and the storm of rugby players, but Ben-To just doesn’t have enough else going for it to make it worthwhile. The female characters have apparently nothing to do with the actual show, simply being there so we can stare at their thighs. It seems silly to have this much focus on the females clothed bodies without any actual service for the viewers, but whatever. Then there’s the main character, who falls into the ever growing pile of Yuji Everyleads, reacting to his surroundings like a ‘normal’ person would. That’s not a personality damnit, that’s just letting the surroundings define his actions.
D- Gundam Age
You know, making a child friendly version of Gundam is cool by me. But making something child friendly does not mean dumbing it down and removing the depth. This is Gundam without any of the messages that come with the franchise, reducing the action to a bunch of measly spectacles held together with bland stock characters. Speaking of action, the directing is incredibly dull. I wish Gundam Age just gave up now and handed its budget over to anime with some desire for interesting direction, like Future Diary or Persona 4. For all the smooth movement, the scenes feel dull and lifeless. It doesn’t even feel like a kids show, what with all the Death and Angst. This is Gundam stripped of all the things that made it interesting, and I’m not even that much of a Gundam fan.
D- Maji de Watashi blah de blah
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a fanservice anime that doesn’t insult your intelligence? I had these thoughts after the second episode, partly because it didn’t insult my intelligence (much). The girls were all falling over the main character to get at his meat and two veg, but at least the main character had charisma and good looks and other reasons that would make a gaggle of girls fall for him. Isn’t it also nice that the girls in question have personalities instead of being a string of submissive statements stapled together with catchphrases? But then came episode 3 and thew all those out the window. Two short stories where girls sit around doing absolutely fuck all and reveal they like the main character for completely retarded reasons while filling the screen with censorship hexagons. Blegh
D- Bakuman Season 2
I wasn’t sure if I was going to bother with a whole new season of Bakuman, but the first episode was quite good. “Hey, maybe the entire season will be like this and the cries of “IT GETS BETTER I SWEAR” will be legit for a change” I found myself thinking. But no, episode 2 saw the glorious return of Bakumans hilarious sexism while episode 3 reduced one of my favourite characters from last season into a blubbering idiotic slave for some girl he liked, totally destroying the carefully worked out motivations they set him last season. Pah, dropped. I’m quite relieved I don’t have to watch anymore of you Bakuman. Good riddance you sexist piece of badly animated shit.
E+ I Don’t Have Many Friends
I do sorta respect I Don’t Have Many Friends. I hate what it represents, but there’s something amazing about how well constructed the level of loser male nerd pandering they put together is here. There’s nothing in here that isn’t aimed straight at the gut and the penis of the loser male otaku crowd. Even the entire premise of the show is warped beautifully to hit this crowd. It’s like the Nuremberg Rallies (OMG GODWINS LAW NOOOO). I hate what they represent, but I can’t help but respect how well put together they are.