10 Apr 2011

Spring 2011 Impressions (Part 1)

(Impressions for: Hanasaku Iroha, TIGER & BUNNY, Gintama, Nichijou, Dog Days, X-Men, Ore-tachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai)

Finished Star Driver, so I might do some reviews in the coming weeks (in between studying for exams). Anyway, the new season is here, bringing a few interesting new series. The Noitamina timeslot has not broadcast anything yet (should be coming next week), but there are already a few shows that have surprisingly caught my attention. Madoka's last 2 episodes are not out yet, but Shaft is aiming to finish it by the end of this month. Meanwhile, there are still lots of shows to watch (and tons to study!).

Hanasaku Iroha (P.A. Works)
Episodes: 26
Ohana's mother needs to run away from some debt collectors, so she leaves her daughter in the hands of her grandmother. The first show I watched this season, and undoubtedly the best so far. Great background art (very much like Shinkai Makoto's), great animation (P.A. Works, the studio behind Angel Beats), and great characters. Omigawa Chiaki and Toyosaki Aki are almost unrecognizable here as they play roles very different from their usual stuff. Omigawa is a quiet but angry girl, while Toyosaki is an extremely shy girl. Itou Kanae plays Ohana with subtlety, never overdoing any line, always keeping her strong-willed but still likable. The rest of the production staff is also quite amazing; we have the director of Sword of the Stranger, the always amazing Okada Mari on the script, and an animation director with impressive credentials. They even have a "main animator" who has worked on Angel Beats, BECK, Blood+, CANAAN, Darker than Black, Dennou Coil, Ghost in the Shell, Star Driver, Sword of the Stranger, Tekkonkinkreet, etc... And it shows. Seems like the director has been successful in bringing out the best in his team so far, and I'm definitely looking forward to more!

TIGER and BUNNY (Sunrise)
Episodes: ?
Superheroes fighting for sponsors on a TV show. Surprisingly, it has a rather interesting premise that hasn't been wrung dry. The battles are creative, with lots of things happening at the same, several superheroes going in and out of action. However, I absolutely hate the voice acting. It's too over the top sometimes. The only likable character so far is the main character, Tiger. I do see some potential in this, especially with Sunrise animating, so I'll cautiously keep a watch on this.

Gintama (Sunrise)
Episodes: A lot
Gintama is back (and the above image is a good summary of what this series is about). After 201 episodes, I think most people would be, to some degree, familiar with this wacky franchise. There's a ton of humour and lots of anime references (especially One Piece), but it still hasn't floored me... Maybe I just need to give it some time, which I'm willing to do so because of the excellent voice talents of Kugimiya Rie and Tomokazu Sugita. Seriously, this might just be my faourite Kugimiya Rie role, and I'm saying this as a fan of the Tsundere Princess.

Nichijou (Kyoto Animation)
Episodes: 26
A girl with a turnkey on her back, a tiny professor, a guy who rides a goat to school. The much awaited, and much criticized, KyoAni production is here. Well.... it's not as bad as the first episode of Lucky Star, but it does not have the same level of charm either. The animation in certain parts (like the explosion near the beginning before the OP), will make a seasoned animator sweat, but ultimately it feels overdone. You don't need to splurge on that kind of scenes for a slice-of-life comedy. The characters are not immediately likable, but, given that this is a KyoAni production, I'm willing to give it some time. Perhaps till they fire the director.

Dog Days (Seven Arcs)
Episodes: 12
A boy gets transported to a world where war is just a giant Ninja Warrior showdown. This show has A LOT of famous voice talents: Horie Yui, Miyano Mamoru, Taketatsu Ayana, Hikasa Yoko, Hanazawa Kana, Wakamoto Norio and Mizuki Nana. But all these talents are gone to waste with the terrible script and plot, even Miyano can't save them!

X-Men (Madhouse)
Episodes: 12
Jean goes mad and Wolverine is tsundere for Cyclops. After the disappointing Iron Man and Wolverine, Madhouse is back with an adaptation of Marvel's X-Men. This particular production benefits from having a diverse group of characters and an actually interesting plot. They don't pile on the cheese, and the action is quite a feast for the eyes. Definitely worth checking out, if only to see Wolverine being tsundere for Cyclops. Surprise of the season?

Ore-tachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai (Nomad)
Episodes: ?
1 Guy, Several Girls. On the surface this seems like it is yet another visual novel harem anime, but the producers actually did something interesting with the format by introducing some weird narrator and bouncing back and forth between several different characters. I still don't know where this is headed, but I'll give it another try next week and see how it goes.

More impression coming next week (A Channel and Steins;Gate, along with a bunch of stuff I have yet to watch).

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