17 Apr 2011

Spring 2011 Impressions (Part 2)

This season is turning out to be pretty good! Well, I say that with almost every season, but this time round it's because of the number of good slice-of-life shows, and a replacement for Madoka's weekly mindfuck. This will probably be the end of my Spring 2011 Impressions as I have exams coming up soon. I've tried to cover as many shows as possible, but some are just not interesting enough to justify watching them instead of studying. Yes, I'd rather study than watch some of these shows.

Steins;Gate (WHITE FOX)
Episodes: 24
Weird man in lab coat channels Satou (from Welcome to the NHK) and thinks he has a time travelling microwave. Wow. Right from the start, Steins;Gate hits you with an amazing atmosphere. Great art direction and animation! These are the same people who brought us Katanagatari, which I thought was not bad. The story feels really fragmented at the moment, but that was what the producers wanted us to feel. It's definitely intriguing, and a strong contender to replace Madoka as my weekly mindfuck. On the staff list, Miyano Mamoru and Hanazawa Kana are both awesome here. Hanazawa-san sounds so cute ^.^

A-Channel (Studio Gokumi)
Episodes: ??
A bunch of school girls... go to school... Well. Kind of like Lucky Star I guess? But while Lucky Star took a while to get going (no offense to Yamamoto Yutaka), A-Channel starts off swinging (literally). The characters are quite interesting so far, especially Run. I was looking forward to hearing Kotobuki Minako, but her voice work here so far has been rather quiet and understated. Anyway, still enjoyable so I'll continue to check this out, all the while hoping for Kotobuki to start speaking in her kansai dialect.

30-sai no Hoken Taiiku (Gathering)
Episodes: ??
30 year old virgin. Umm... No more please. Apparently there was a live-action segment to the broadcast that was so horrible that they cancelled that segment for all future episodes.

Maria Holic Alive (Shaft)
Episodes: ??
Girl that likes girls goes to all-girls school. I think I remember why I did not follow the first season now. Maria Holic is so full of "Shaft quality" without the sharp writing of Bakemonogatari or Madoka. It just doesn't work out that well here... I think even Arakawa Under the Bridge was much better than this in the humour department and characterisation.

SKET DANCE (Tatsunoko Production)
Episodes: Probably quite long if it does well
Support, Kindness, Encouragement, Troubleshoot. A group of students start the equivalent of the S.O.S. brigade, except they actually carry out the appropriate activities. Just like last season's Beelzebub, I was looking forward to witnessing the start of a long-running series. Unfortunately, this isn't the next Naruto or Bleach. SKET DANCE has lots of heart and energy, but doesn't exactly hook anyone in.

Softenni (XEBEC)
Episodes: 12
A bunch of girls play "soft tennis", or tennis with a soft ball. Lots of fan service, and an over-imaginative, dirty-minded girl, but overall it's actually quite clean. at least in terms of plot. Makes me wonder why they bother with this much fan service in the first place. The characters aren't really clicking with me yet though.

Astarotte no Omocha! (Diomedea)
Episodes: 12
A loli succubus princess needs to build a harem. Being a Kugimiya Rie fan, I was looking forward to this reverse harem, but I didn't expect this much fan service. At least they don't really play it up (not many close-up shots or weird camera angles), but it does distract from what could be a cleaner romantic comedy from the folks who brought us the fantastic Ika Musume. This character AND plot was written for Kugimiya Rie and her awesome tsundere voice. Just cut down on the fan service and this might be good.

Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai II (Manglobe)
Episodes: 12?
Our lead character needs to charm several girls using his skills in visual novels and dating sims. Kami Nomi wastes no time in jumping straight into the story of the next girl. So far, it is not as slow as it's last few episodes in season 1, which is a good thing. However, the formula remains unchanged, and I doubt there will be any interesting twists to what they have shown so far. Taketatsu Ayana's Takahara Ayumi is still my favourite girl in this series (maybe I like sporty girls?).

Hen Zemi (XEBEC)
Episodes: ??
Abnormal Physiology Seminar a.k.a. Hentai Seminar a.k.a. Hen Zemi. This show is just crap. The writing is bad and weird, and the art is horrible. I don't understand why Hanazawa Kana is even doing this!

Fireball Charming (Jinni's Animation)
Episodes: 13
A series of super short shorts about a robot princess. This show actually looks great and makes good use of its time. The humour is sharp and well-timed, while the 3D CG animation is always busy. Short but very entertaining.

Hidan no Aria (J.C. Staff)
Episodes: ??
A gun-totting girl falls from the sky to save our lead character. Hidan no Aria is an example where Kugimiya Rie, in her tsundere voice, sounds out of place. The writing here is quite bad, and the premise is quite ridiculous. A school that trains child mercenaries? It just seems to me that the seriousness of the child soldiers issue is being brushed off. The characters are too care-free to be killers... It's just a weird combination of moe and guns.

C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control (Tatsunoko Production)
Episodes: 11
Our lead character gets sucked into a world of money. C certainly looks pretty and the story is intriguing. And this is a Noitamina timeslot anime. But I'm quite wary of the Yu-Gi-Oh style battles... I'm not really a fan of these types of shounen action shows as the fighting is usually dumb. This does have Tatsunoko working on it though, so we might be getting some flashy action scenes.

Ano Hi Mata Hana no Namae wo Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai (A-1 Pictures)
Episodes: 11
A bunch of childhood friends have grown apart. Off to a great start! While not as wow-inducing as Iroha's art and animation, this series still packs a punch, being more like Toradora, but with Fractale's or Kannagi's level of animation. This is from A-1 Picures after all. So far everything is coming together nicely and in terms of characteristation, this is the completely opposite from Hanasaku Iroha. While iroha concentrates on 1 character and her isolation, AnoHana focuses on a group of friends that have drifted apart. In terms of drama, this seems like it will be more powerful drama, with characters that won't really get along for a while. This being from the director of Toradora, I expect the drama side of things to be handled well. While I loved Toradora, the humour sort of fell flat, and it was the dramatic moments (the girl fights, Kitamura's confession, and Minorin's FANTASTIC ghost/UFO talk) that REALLY stood out.

Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko (Shaft)
Episodes: 13
Girl thinks she is an alien. This show just looks great! The character designs are not bad, and they don't cut too many corners. Unlike Maria Holic, this looks like a quality Shaft production, more akin to Bakemonogatari in style, while almost reaching Madoka-level animation. They seem to be working on too many projects at once? There's Madoka's last 2 episodes, Maria Holic Alive, this, and the Kizumonogatari movie (to be released in 2012). Top talents were probably split between working on this and Madoka. Hopefully, after Madoka episodes 11 and 12 air, Denpa Onna would keep up with the quality. If all goes well, we might have another Shaft hit on our hands here, probably the only time Shaft has back-to-back hits.

Deadman Wonderland (Manglobe)
Episodes: 12
Our lead character is accused of killing his classmates. The first episode was intense! For the whole time he was put on trial (which didn't last long), I was wishing someone would just think logically. How could he have done it?? Won't everyone be able to overpower him or at least run out of the classroom? No matter, the sense of injustice you will feel for Ganta only cements the fact that the producers have successfully made you care about the main character. The animation was appropriately intense and fluid, particularly the camera movements and explosions. Looking at the staff list, we have Paku Romi (no wonder he sounded so much like chibi Fullmetal) and Hanazawa Kana as the two leads Ganta and Shiro. The music was produced by "NARASAKI", which I found out was the guy who did some theme songs for Sayonara Zetsuobo Sensei and Hanamaru Kindergarten. I'm not sure if this means he's responsible for lacing the entire episode with a fantastic soundtrack or it was the sound director at work. Regardless, this episode had high production values and a great story to boot, making it an easy decision to carry on watching.

Quick Peeks
Here is a list of the shows I took a peek at but didn't watch the whole way through. Needless to say, these aren't going to be on my watch/blog list.

Sengoku Otome ~Momoiro Paradox~ (TMS Entertainment)
Episodes: ??
I typically don't like the sengoku setting when it isn't taken seriously.

Kaiji 2 (Madhouse)
Episodes: ??
Art sucks, and I'm not going to start watching this from the second season.

Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi (Studio DEEN)
Episodes: 12

Dororon Enma-kun Meramera (Brain's Base)
Episodes: ??
Dumber than it looks.

Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san (Production I.G.)
Episodes: ??
Not really my cup of tea.

Hoshizora e Kakaru Hoshi (Dogakobo)
Episodes: 12
Full of cliches.

So that's it. It has been a great season premiere, but now it's time for me to face reality and take a break from anime. I missed out on Toriko (not interested, and did not chance upon it), Aoi no Exorcist (will look into it when it comes out), Moshidora (again, when it comes out), and Hyouge Mono (will check it out because psgels recommended it). I'll be back in May with Anime Weekly 8.

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