36 CommentsFirst Impressions / By Scamp /

Yet Another Bloody Natsume episode 1

Well damn, I wasn’t planning to write about this. But Future Diary is on a break this week. None of the new anime have aired yet, mainly all being packed on either the 7th or the 9th. The only new anime airing today is Prince of Tennis and I’m not touching that franchise again unless more dinosaurs are involved. There was meant to be another one of those eye-cancerous quality Nico streams of Nymphogear, but apparently nobody bothered to even rip the raw, let alone bother to sub it. So sod it, let’s talk about Yet Another Bloody Natsume.

It’s rather interesting to see what started out as a single cour 13 episode anime turn out its fourth iteration, now going to span over 50 episodes. Natsume is fairly popular in Japan, but it’s hardly blowing the world apart. It’s nothing more than a steady seller that turns a decent profit for them. This didn’t really happen in the past. One of the reasons why I stopped doing those retro season previews (apart from the insane amount of work they took) was because anime seasons weren’t as clearly defined as they were today. The 13 episode series is fairly new, only really starting in the 00’s. It’s down to risk. Producing 26 episodes of an anime that goes on to completely bomb will severely hurt a company. Alternatively, producing a 13 episode series and then making more if it sells is less risky.

This is generally a good thing, in my opinion. Less risk on each individual anime means companies are willing to take more risks with their variety. I remember reading a few years ago that Spice and Wolf would never had been made if it wasn’t for the expanded number of anime being made in general. It’s also good that companies don’t lose out all their money funding some crap and it ends up being cancelled. I cannot think of a single anime that was cancelled while it was airing from the 00’s onwards (someone will probably correct me on this, but there’s definitely been none since 2008 when I starting following anime weekly). Anime never getting that second season sort of means it was cancelled, but they know from the start there’s always going to be that possibility and should try to keep that single season self-contained. There is a trend recently of sequels being announced before popularity can even be gauged. OK, so Fate/Zero was always going to be 26 episodes, and the announcement was more that there was going to be a 3 month break more so than a season 2. But Horizon got a second season announced after only a few episodes, while Kimi to Boku had a second season announced just before the first season even started. I dunno what’s going on there, it’s weird.

What, talk about Natsume? Come on guys, it’s still the same damn show. It’s no different from those episodes I covered right back in 2008 when I first started blogging (don’t read those posts, they’re rubbish). My point here is that Natsume heading for over 50 episodes after 4 seasons worth of content is a product of its time. When I see people complain about too many sequels in a new season, the complaints always seem a touch hollow when there’s still far more new anime being made nowadays because they’ve gone for this sequel model. I seem to whine a lot about Natsume getting sequels, but I really shouldn’t. It’s a decent show, and they even seem to be taking this season in the direction I hoped they would. But…you know, isn’t there a Durarara sequel you guys should be working on?

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  1. Posted January 4, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    “”This is gen­er­ally a good thing, in my opin­ion. Less risk on each indi­vidual anime means com­pan­ies are will­ing to take more risks with their vari­ety. I remem­ber read­ing a few years ago that Spice and Wolf would never had been made if it wasn’t for the expan­ded num­ber of anime being made in gen­eral. It’s also good that com­pan­ies don’t lose out all their money fund­ing some crap and it ends up being can­celled.”

    You know what suffers from exactly what you’re describing in spades, such that it hurts me to even think of it? The blasted video games industry.

    Imagine if all new anime had to meet or exceed Guilty Crown’s production values and also run for a full 52 episodes just in order to survive. When this inevitably failed to happen on a consistent basis for a studio like Shaft, White Horse, or Brain’s Base, they would shut down, break up their staff, and disseminate throughout the rest of the industry. Their next project would play things as safe and profitable as physically possible, as would the next one after that.

    Think of it, Scamp. A season of two dozen Guilty Crowns. That is what it means to be a player of video games in these dark times.

    • Scamp
      Posted January 4, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      Hollywood does it too. What has happened in both these industries though is those who care about more innovation turn to indie markets. Anime doesn’t have an indie market

      • Posted January 5, 2012 at 4:33 am | Permalink

        In a sense you might consider manga and light novel series to be the “indie” form of anime, since although they’re both different forms of media, their storytelling conventions are more or less identical, and both are used to prototype ideas for potential anime adaptations down the road. In my admittedly limited experience, manga also tends to take more risks and approach a broader number of subjects much the way indie films do.

        Obviously anime moves and book pages don’t, but it’s probably the closest a small group of new artists can get without a studio of animators at their behest.

      • ペーパー先生
        Posted January 5, 2012 at 5:51 am | Permalink

        Thank you, NAOTA. That’s pretty much the entire reason I read manga. Their are so many more mangas out their, and I find that some of them can be really good. Plus, I like the pictures :) That being said, I was half way though Another manga when I found Another anime was coming out, and I haven’t read a chapter sense.

      • ペーパー先生
        Posted January 5, 2012 at 5:53 am | Permalink

        I apologize for the typos

    • lostsage
      Posted January 5, 2012 at 1:17 am | Permalink

      I don’t quite follow your argument. Scamp is talking about companies taking risks on new anime while you seem to be lamenting current game companies doing the opposite.

      While Arkham City, Skyward Sword, Skyrim, Dark Souls and Uncharted 3 are all derivative of their respective franchises, they are all also incredible good games. There are also games like Catherine or the infinite numbers of Marketplace games if that is what float your boat. And this is only console gaming.

      The only dark times for gaming is when all these good games are coming out and you don’t have to money to buy them.

      • Posted January 5, 2012 at 4:51 am | Permalink

        I’d say the dark times are realizing that games like X-COM, Syndicate, Mech Warrior, Thief, or even Final Fantasy VI/VII/VIII can’t exist in the current climate. All games from non-indie studios must look absolutely stunning and have blockbuster production values and appeal to 90% of all gamers everywhere to succeed and make back their investment.

        Any threat of niche appeal means a game won’t be made at all unless it’s made by an indie team… and indie teams don’t have the resources to make big ambitious games. I adore games like Bastion and Cave Story, but they’re very limited by their team size and lack of budget.

        No indie team is ever going to make a first person Thief game to modern standards, because modern standards are unreasonably high. You need full voice acting, pixel shaders, normal maps, and massive amounts of minute detail. Hell, the pros can’t even match the size and length of a 14-year-old game under these demands – it would cost them too much.

  2. Alterego
    Posted January 4, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    I think Kimi to Boku and Horizon, (and Rinne no Lagrange, that is also known to continue in the summer), are all in the same newly invented category, of 26 pisode series with a 13-week break in their airing. The only difference is that Fate/Zero’s plot is a completely closed story, so the second part is more clearly the “second half” of a story, while the others could also get potential sequels, like “real second seasons” with another 26 episodes.

    By the way, I think people who whine about either this, or or other 3rd and4th seasons of shows as warning signs of unoriginality, just forget how fortunate they are. In any mainstream medium/genre that is forced to pandering to masses of casual audiences, it’s SELF-EVIDENT that any successful series must be continued as long as it’s profitable. Either primetime shonen anime, or other TV series, movies, video game franchises, they can go on for DECADES.

    • Scamp
      Posted January 4, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

      Heh, funny idea of panering to masses of casual audiences. Does that even count as pandering anymore?

      • Alterego
        Posted January 4, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

        I would say so. People certainly use the phrase, as in “pandering to the Lowest Common Denominator”, it has half a million google results with quotation marks. It’s used for things like only making pop-culture references that the “average person” will surely get, or making a game easier so amateours won’t get frustrated.

  3. Posted January 4, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Fuck Durarara!! Give me Spice and Wolf 3!

    • Posted January 4, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

      Fuck Durarara! Give me Enma-kun 2!

      • Scamp
        Posted January 4, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

        Neither of these are relevant because it’s not the same creative team at Brains Base, while Natsume is made by the same folks who made Durarara

    • Posted January 4, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      Unlike the first season, Spice and Wolf 2 wasn’t so popular. The sales were kinda low compared to its predecessor’s.

      • Scamp
        Posted January 4, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

        Were they? I didn’t know, I just assumed they remained consistent. Well that’s kind of a downer =(

  4. Karry
    Posted January 4, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    “Less risk on each indi­vidual anime means com­pan­ies are will­ing to take more risks with their vari­ety. ”

    Oh, the naivete of youth. That NEVER happens. N-E-V-E-R. When you start sliding down to the “stability” – there is no going back. That’s the sure sign of stillness and the start of decay. Well, except for cases when the entire upper management of a company dies in a plane crash or something radical like that.

  5. Posted January 4, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Your analysis of the financial risks regarding a series’ length is correct, but I beg to differ when it comes to niche series: Except for noitaminA, most 1 cour series are just generic rubbish. Most 13 episodes anime don’t even have the required length it takes to play out their plot if they are adaptions (and that’s precisely why most anime like that don’t even have a plot). You just can’t let them end at a certain point in the middle of nowhere. Sure, one could avoid this by producing more original anime but why would you do that? There are tons of popular stuff to adapt whereas with original animation you have to hire people for making up a story on the spot.
    Just looking at the seasons’ previews makes it kind of obvious that 2 cour series have way more potential than anime airing for just one season. Their premises are rather different, aren’t they?

    As for Natsume, I’m growing sick of it. Now don’t get me wrong, because I’m absoluteley on your side, the anime is kinda good, but it becomes repetitive to the point where I think it’s extremely stupid. It’s as you said: The new season is no different from the first one. Hell, it took them not even a minute to make Natsume ramble about how his childhood was ruined by ghosts and demons again. I don’t even get this focus on events which took place a long time before the plot: If he’s happy in the present, why spend lengthy segments on his past with little to no difference each time? What happened in the past doesn’t influence him any longer by now. I really wish they’d change their motive or something like that.
    Then again, Natsume is still better than 90% of the season, so yeah.

    Btw, my english is not really good, so please bear with it.:P
    I’d also welcome some corrections with open arms, if you wouldn’t mind.

    • Alterego
      Posted January 4, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      I disagree about that. Most 1 cour anime is rubbish, but most 2 cour anime is rubbish as well. It’s Sturgeon’s law: most of EVERYTHING is rubbish. But if you look at the best few anime, the ones that end up being worth watching, you can see that 1 cour series tend to outnumber 2 cours with the same rate as in the full season chart.

      I can’t really prove that, because I can’t objectively prove which shows are goo, but as a substitute, just look at any blog’s “top 10 anime of the year” list, or a public poll, and you will see that many of the typically praised series are 1 cour. And yes, many of them are on noit­am­inA, but it’s not the time slot’s fault that it happens to be popular.

      • Posted January 4, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

        “and you will see that many of the typ­ic­ally praised series are 1 cour. ”
        That’s because they are much more 1 cour anime than 2 cour anime, I’d say.

      • Alterego
        Posted January 4, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

        Not significantly. For example in the fall season, there were exactly 11 double-cour, 11 singe-cour, and 4 other/undecided series.

        (assuming that Fate/Zero and Kimi to Boku format counts as double cour.)

    • Scamp
      Posted January 4, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

      Would like to add that I didn’t mean that all these 13 episode anime would be riskier. There’s still plenty being made playing it totally safe. But there’s still a few riskier ones being made that perhaps wouldn’t be made otherwise

      Also ‘riskier’ doesn’t always mean better. It can be totally shit too. Pretty sure you’d count Rio Rainbow Gate as fairly risky

      • Alterego
        Posted January 4, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, that too. Or for example there was CxCxC, that was completely out there, with it’s “generic fantasy light novel premise meets Shaft style weirdness, meets gratuitous gory violence” combination, and this attempt was amusing in a certain sense, even if didnt end up being a masterpiece.

  6. Posted January 4, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    On the other hand, because of this way of doing things, you would rather not get another season of Kamisama Dolls :( It didn’t sell well.

    • Scamp
      Posted January 4, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

      Yeah but most people hated it, so what can you do

  7. Blargh
    Posted January 4, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    No cause Drrrrrrrrrrrrr! was bloody boring as shit after the first major arc.

    Kamisama dolls much deserves a sequel it wasn’t horseshit on a platter.

    For the record I absolutly adore shows like natsume and I chalk you disliking it up to having no taste :p I mean you do watch gg subs and not complain about it.

    • Scamp
      Posted January 4, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

      The second arc of drrrrrrr was great, it was only the last one that sucked. But that’s exactly why it needs a sequel! The final arc left a bad taste in everyone’s collective mouths, but the core of the story is still as great as ever.

      Also I do like Natsume more than at least 80% of the anime out there

  8. ペーパー先生
    Posted January 5, 2012 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    1 cour; okay, this could be good. might as well watch
    2 cours; the last season was good, I just hope they don’t fuck it up
    3 cours; well, it’s been good so far, but this is getting kinda boring…
    4 cours; ….Fuck this

  9. Posted January 5, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Unrelated: Hey Scamp, how about doing a Katawa Shoujo review?

    • Scamp
      Posted January 5, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      No real interest. I mean, well done to the guys for finally bringing that thing out. It was quite an accomplishment. But I have no interest in playing a dating sim

  10. luffyluffy
    Posted January 5, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    >Don’t post for nearly 2 months
    >Still top commenter

    Well that’s just brilliant. I encountered computer problems and couldn’t watch anything besides when I had on dvd, so instead of actually trying I got my mom addicted to Gundam.

    I’m working nice and hard to catch up and should be back to posting within a few days!

    • Scamp
      Posted January 5, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

      You’re so stupidly far ahead of everyone else in the comment counts though

      • luffyluffy
        Posted January 6, 2012 at 2:24 am | Permalink

        Should I be proud or

  11. DarkEnergy
    Posted January 8, 2012 at 2:05 am | Permalink

    I want to see Brains Base make a Baccano/Durarara mashup sequel somehow. I think it would be hilarious. Could you imagine Isaac and Miria going to Russia Sushi?

  12. Posted January 8, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    Tenpou Ibun Ayakashi Ayashi was canceled in 2007, after displaying literally the worst pacing I have ever seen in anime. But I can’t think of any others in the past ten years.

  13. Suckit
    Posted January 9, 2012 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    “But Hori­zon got a second sea­son announced after only a few epis­odes, while Kimi to Boku had a second sea­son announced just before the first sea­son even star­ted.”

    It’s the same thing that Fate/Zero got. They’re all split cour shows; meaning they all have a set amount of episodes planned that are just being split over seasons. It’s not really “second seasons” and such as the companies call them, although in Horizon’s case that may be justified because its second season will probably be 2-cour.

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