1 May 2011

Anime Weekly 8

A short post every Sunday, 9pm (I hope!) summarizing what I've watched in the past 7 days. Notable episodes this week have a (*) beside the episode number.

Madoka's final 2 episodes were shown last week, and what an EPIC ending that was. I almost mistook it for a Gainax series, except less crazy. Also, a lot of the Spring shows have been quite good, so I'll have a hard time reducing them to a bloggable amount (3 to 5?)... but I'll try anyway!

Finished series

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica 11, 12(*)
After a long wait, Madoka is back to blow our minds! But it doesn't really do that. Those following Anime Weekly would know how much I love this series (and in particular the 10th episode), but the ending here just fails to deliver the same level of excitement and mindfuckery as the previous episodes. However, I really have to commend the director for being able to pace these 2 episodes really well and bring it to a nice conclusion. Without a doubt, episode 11 and 12 has benefited from the delay as they had more time to choose the scenes they want to show and tune the pacing so that it isn't rushed nor outstays its welcome. I'll have a full review of Madoka up within the next 2 weeks.

Most likely blogging

Hanasaku Iroha 2(*), 3, 4(*)
The visuals continue to astound me week after week! Unlike Star Driver, Hanasaku Iroha keeps up the quality by giving us beautiful backgrounds and well-animated CG. I particularly liked the quick zoom from one room of the inn to another, done with well-rendered CG that isn't too in-your-face. Story-wise, this series seems to slow down a little and ease up on the drama for episodes 2 and 3. The novel writer's arc wasn't that interesting, but it did serve as a situation to develop the characters a little. We see Naoko's bravery and strength a little bit and get another person's perspective of Ohana's character. Episode 4 explored more of Minko's personality and hints at her slowly opening up to Ohana. I'm actually starting to like Tohru too ^.^
For Hanasaku Iroha to stay interesting, I think they should stop introducing random characters (like the writer) and focus more on developing the cast. In particular, Nako, Tohru, and grandma still have a lot of potential, and of course the newly introduced Yuina. Oh, and Ko-chan too! I hope they don't drag out the Ohana - Ko-chan situation out too much...

Steins;Gate 2, 3(*), 4
A semi-smart series with quasi-science, but it gets most things right. For one, when trying to hack into SERN (of course not related to CERN), our "super haker" goes the most practical and realistic root; SQL injection and hacking into their email database. Moreover, some jumbled up hexadecimal codes appear on screen and the first thing they do is to reference ASCII tables and other character tables. Smart! A good amount of research must have been put in to get the John Titor story, time travelling theories, and various computing/hacking elements right, and I should salute the writer for that. If not for some awkward dialogue (childishly calling each other hentai), the rest of the script seems fine. Oh and both Feyris Nyan Nyan and Mayushii Nyan Nyan are aweeesome! As usual, Hanazawa-san is unbearably cute in her Mayuri voice, while "super haker's" voice is oddly appropriate and fun to hear. One thing I noticed, which might or might not be deliberate, is the screen flicker in certain scenes. I've confirmed it's not a monitor issue, and it can be consistently reproduced. Either this is a hint at the diverging world theory OR it could just be the fansub groups goofing up. The former is much more interesting.

AnoHana 2, 3(*)
AnoHana likes to take its own sweet time. It isn't till episode 3 when I finally understood the direction the writer was taking this series. But let's start from episode 2. "Anaru's" character is explored a little and we get to see what she is like beneath all that make-up. Honestly, it's the characters that really drive this series. Having a diverse group of friends brings about interesting group dynamics. Just like what Wondering Son did before it, the writer could just create a situation and put the characters in it and it'll still make for a very interesting show. It's how the characters interact with each other and how they deal with a common history and problem that makes them shine. And that was showcased very well in episode 3. This series is aiming to dig deep into the psychology of this group of friends. As each of them begin seeing their own version of Menma, we will uncover the guilt each of them felt for the incident many years ago. I really like where this is going and I hope this lives up to being yet another awesome noitamina series!

Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko 2, 3(*)
Surprisingly, Denpa Onna does not suffer a lot from Shaft's usual bad in-between animation. It is generally fluid and beautiful to look at. However, it is also sparse on animation. In that sense, it reminds me of Bakemonogatari but with less focus on typography. Another departure from usual bad Shaft habits is the interesting amount of emotional depth and complexity to the plot. Erio might be a bishoujo with a moe-some voice, but her character has deep dark secrets. The explanations about her past that trickles out each episode slowly fills in the blanks and make you really care about her more and more. By the end of episode 3, I was completely enamored by her character. The combination of interesting back story, emotional depth, great voice acting and of course a nice character design makes her one of my favourite characters this season. This series is becoming a really enjoyable show for me, and I hope people will look past some of it's weirdness to uncover the interesting plot underneath.

Ao no Exorcist 1, 2(*)
This is a true blue hot-blooded shounen series (pun intended). Ao no Exorcist reverses recent trends by focusing solely on a small group of characters and having a simple plot. Rin Okumura is Satan's son. His foster father is a priest that brings him up. I feel like I've heard of a similar tale before... hmm... Anyway, this is as straight forward as it can be. Rin quickly loses his foster father in what seems like a Peter Parker (or any other death-triggered superhero) moment. It doesn't pretend to be what it is not, and for that I respect it. The director did take a bit of time in the first episode to fool around though, so I'm a little worried those moments might creep back in again. If the producers can keep up with this same pacing we saw in episode 2, this should turn into a decent action show.

C 2, 3
First and foremost, let me just say that I HATE the CG in this show. It's not overused yet, but I can see it being a major component for the rest of the series since most things in the Financial District is rendered in CG. But perhaps I'm just being too hard on it. The fights are quite decent to watch, and the mysterious Financial District has definitely piqued my interest. Episode 3 in particular explored this aspect and right now I'm more interested in this than the main character's past. His character just seems a little inconsistent and the people he meets in the real world are just not that important anymore. With 26 episodes to work with, the producers have the time to fully flesh out this world and make it really interesting (especially with how it interacts with the real world).

Deadman Wonderland 2
The producers really pull no punches here. They know how far they can go and proceed to step on that line every time. Certainly not a show for everyone, the blood and gore here can be quite disturbing without being stupidly over-the-top. It treats itself seriously throughout and show the desperation of all the prisoners in it. The only anomaly is Shiro. She just... doesn't really make sense in this story. With the exception of Red Man and her, everything else has been following a rather strict reality so far. What her role is and WHY the prison guards and administration don't talk much about her will definitely be a key plot point later on. For now, I just want them to speed up with the introduction to the systems in place at this Deadman Wonderland.

Not blogging

Nichijou 2(*), 3(*), 4
This is the first time I've seen a character in anime greeting each other with "selamat pagi" or mention "sepak takraw". If the above images and video aren't already obvious enough, Nichijou is an incredibly random show and can get me laughing out loud. But the jokes are just too few. Episodes 2 and 3 are possibly some of the funniest anime I've seen, but episode 0, 1 and 4 are incredibly boring! There's no connection with the characters. We hardly care about them. Many jokes fall flat and they can still drag them out like it even matters anymore. I'm giving this series one more episode. I've episode 5 blows me away, the score would be 3-3 and I would continue watching. A 50% funny rate is not too bad in my opinion, but definitely does not meet up to KyoAni's usual standards. This is possibly KyoAni's worst series since the first few episodes of Lucky Star aired (thankfully that got better over time and after firing a certain director).

A Channel 2, 3, 4
I've come to the point where I watch this series solely for Yuki Aoi (Tooru) and Kotobuki Minako (Yuuko). I really hate the slow moments whenever the insert song comes up. The songs are just not that nice to listen to and the scenes portrayed during those sequences do not get the slice-of-life mood right. Well, this will be a 15 minute show every week as I skip my way through the boring parts.

Astarotte no Omocha 2, 3
I was pleasantly surprised to see the producers cut down on the fan service elements of this show. Lotte is a little more mature than she seems to be at first sight, though a childish side of her still exists. The story progresses slowly though, and it seems quite predictable. Lotte will eventually learn to trust guys and will gain a "father" or "brother" in Naoya. *yawn* Kugimiya Rie needs to be given better roles!

The World God Only Knows S2 2
KamiNomi isn't as slow as the first season's second half, but the situations aren't getting more interesting either. It's unfortunate that I'm already following quite a few series, otherwise I would give this another chance. Besides, a new, persistent, character will be introduced in episode 3, which might change the stale formula somewhat. Well, I'll find some time to watch this, but I definitely won't be blogging it.

Hyouge Mono 1
As interesting as a tea master in the sengoku period sounds, the producers managed to make it weirder than it already is. There are scenes where it feels like they are trying to inject some humour, but the seriousness of the rest of the scenes make you question where they are trying to go with this. This just isn't my cup of tea (ahahahaha.... ok, sorry).

Gintama 203, 204
I can understand why some people simply love this series. There's a huge cast of funny, lovable characters that make the jokes flow constantly. This is something only a long running series can do, as it takes time to build up all the characters and their relationships before we can get to this point of non-stop punchlines. BUT I feel that I'm unable to follow it. It feels like I'm at a party full of people I'm not very familar with and they are laughing and having fun while I stand there thinking "haha... how fun..." feeling left out... Theoretically speaking of course. My life isn't like that at all. I'm a social butterfly. *ahem* Moving on...

Hidan no Aria 2
This isn't what I imagined the Ryuu-Taiga reunion would be like! It reminds me of last season's IS, a harem style show with focus on action, except there's no action this episode... And I really really hate the premise. All those child mercenaries still act like kids and there's no seriousness to it at all. Script Writer, please go watch Gunslinger Girl and then wallow in self-pity (imagine this spoken in Kugimiya Rie's voice).

The episodic nature of this series and the lack of an over-arcing plot makes it hard to recommend. It has some good timing for its humour and it moves along at a nice pace, but the quality of their weekly cases fail to interest me. Too bad... was expecting this to at least be up to Nurarihyon quality.

Softenni 2, 3
This show just gets more and more WTF moments as it goes on. And it likes to reuse unfunny jokes. Just look at the image above. The randomness is not enjoyable at all and felt more like they did not do a good job with the adaptation.

Moshidora 1
I can't believe how incredibly boring this show is. It has an interesting premise (managing a baseball team using a book on Management by Peter Drucker), but it was so poorly executed. The characters just seem dull and bored. I read on some blogs that this actually gets good later on, so I might try to catch up with it. It's broadcasting a new episode 5 days a week for 2 weeks, so I'll most likely watch it after it's done.

Among all the series I've written about here, only Nichijou might be promoted to a bloggable series while C, Ao no Exorcist and Deadman Wonderland have to compete for a slot. I generally don't like to blog about shounen series because I find it hard to talk about, but these 3 seem to have a plot that actually move along at a brisk pace, so I might do them.

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