August 8th, 2007

Kashira? Kashira? Gozonji Kashira?

New anime

Some short thoughts (long overdue) on new anime.

Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei: Nozomu, a teacher, sees no point in life, and he tries to commit suicide. But he is saved by Kafuka, who has such a positive outlook on life that she is the complete opposite. Obviously, Nozomu will become her homeroom teacher, and they are destined to engage in many a verbal battle.
A quirky animation style and lots and lots and lots of wordplay and word-jokes. Funny.

Shigurui: Historical samurai stuff about a tournament with real weapons sponsored/ordained by some Tokugawa scion. We get to see a bit of the backstory from two contenders: one has only one arm, the other is blind and is a cripple. Blood spatters everywhere.
This one seems to fall squarely in the 'Fist of the Northern Star'-segment, with a confusing story to boot. Perhaps if you have a degree in Japanese History, all of the names will actually mean something to you. Either way, we couldn't care.

Wangan Midnight: Street racers! Who use the ordinary highway to drive their spectacular cars at ridiculous and unsafe speeds! And a boy who buys his dream car that seems to be cursed! And then he neglects school to drive at night!
I always thought streetraces were exciting, but the way it's depicted in this anime, it's definately snooze-worthy. Add the second-hand Christine plotline, and it's easy to miss.

Summer: Typical harem anime. It has all the clichés, and nothing new or refreshing. I couldn't sit through the whole thing.

Mononoke: A travelling medicine salesman doubles as an exorcist! When he notices that a desperate pregnant woman is staying in the same inn as he is, he takes an interest in the spirits that reside in the room she is assigned. All very understated, with very little action, and with a very distinctive style.
I couldn't get into this. I found the style quite ugly, and that kept distracting me.

Tales of Symphonia: Based on a console RPG, with all the usual trappings. The earth has been ravaged, and it is slowly dying off. A girl becomes the Chosen, and she has to travel to some huge-ass tower, in order to save the world, and become an angel in the process. Colette is the Chosen, and she intends to leave her friends behind and shoulder the burden along. However, when the village is attacked after she leaves, her two friends decide to catch up with her to protect her!
Really nice animation. The plot isn't very surprising, though -- but at only four episodes, that isn't too much of a problem.

Zero no Tsukaima, second season: More of the same, except with a plot that starts to move earlier than with the first series. The people who tried to overthrow the kingdom get their mitts on all sorts of powerful artefacts, and the queen (formerly the princess) asks Louise to keep an eye out on things. Obviously, Saito gets in all sorts of trouble with the ladies because of his raging teenage hormones.
The first episode of this started off with Louise giving Saito the usual beating, and it didn't improve after that. We'll give this one a miss.

Baccano!: Immortal people, the mafia and a mob war, newspaper reporters, people being thrown off a train... I don't know where it is all headed, but I do know that it looks gorgeous, promises a(n) interesting plotline(s), and just oozes style.

Doujin Work: Osana's friend is a complete yaoi maniac. Osana helps her out at a Comiket, and finds out that the titles from popular circles fetch a nice price at a high volume. She decides to become a doujinshi mangaka, in order to make her fortune!
Decent artwork, and a very diverse cast of characters promise to make this a lighthearted comedy about such a fringe subject.

Keitai Shoujo: Creepy guy keeps tabs on various cute girls. I'm not so sure it's a harem anime, but it has all the trappings of it.

Kono Aozora ni Yakusoku wo: A company has built up a whole city infrastructure on an island to support the families of its factory workers. However, the factory is to be closed down, and the school will close as well. The highschool kids who live in a dorm together (one guy and several girls...) know they will have to leave after the next school year. When a new girl arrives, she refuses to become friendly with them, because she doesn't want the hearbreak of having to say goodbye. Obviously, our hero convinces her to 'make many memories' with them all.
I'll hazard a guess that it is based on a hentai game -- and we all know what kinds of 'memories' are made in those. Obviously the TV series will be toned down, but the first scene features the hero waking up next to the (naked) new girl, so you know what to expect.

Majokko Tsukune-chan: Tsukune is a witch, who will cheerfully cast a deathly spell of destruction. For some reason, the mayor likes to hang out at her house, but obviously he gets mangled in various comic situations.
Very basic character designs and animation, with various characters being mangled in imaginative ways. Cheerfully violent.

Moetan: Ink Nakamura, a loli if there ever was one, has a huge crush on her classmate, who is about to completely fail his schoolwork and flunk out of highschool. She meets a powerful magician who has been banished from the Magical Kingdom, who has been given the form of a... duck. He instructs her in the ways of the Magical Girls, and Ink turns into... Magical Teacher Pastel Ink!
Ink is incredibly dorky, and completely doesn't know. It's a bit of a parody on Magical Girl anime -- for instance, the wings that allow Ink flight appear on her hips, giving her a very undignified flying pose...

Mushi-uta: Highschool kids have giant insects and other beasties as familiar -- the critters feed on their dreams. The government has a special task force to keep these kids under control, but they fight back under the leadership of 'Ladybird'.
Giant centipede's flipping cars like there is no tomorrow, and quite a bit of fighting. And obviously, they all meet at school the next day, without being aware of each others secret identity!

Oh Edo Rocket: Set in a historical period when all luxuries have been forbidden -- including fireworks. Obviously, that makes life quite hard for firework crafter Tamaya. His passion for fireworks hasn't been dimmed one bit, and he secretly conducts experiments to create ever brighter and bigger explosions. And then, one day, a blue haired girl appears at his shop and asks him to build her a fireworks rocket that will reach the moon.
An interesting premise for a comedy. Looks decent as well (though Tamaya's character design takes a bit getting used to).

Ookiku Furikabutte: Baseball anime. Mihashi, who was the pitcher in his middle school baseball team, seriously lacks confidence -- he thinks his position as pitcher was only due to his grandfather managing the team. The circumstances force him to join the highschool team, and the catcher recognizes his abilities. By carefully manipulating both Mihashi and the other prospective players, the catcher manages to convince everybody that they will make a good team.
Sports anime -- what is there left to say about it? Perhaps that Mihashi's snivelling really rubbed me the wrong way.

Potemayo: Moriyama finds a weird creature in his fridge, which seems to take a liking to him and follows him around. It is pretty possessive, too, and makes evil eyes at one of the girls who has a crush on him. A few days later, a similar but evil and un-cute creature appears, wielding a scythe...
Totally random comedy. The schoolkids take the appearance of the creates all in stride, and various hijinks ensue.

Umisho: Okimura is afraid of water, because of an unfortunate event when he was young, which he claims was because of a mermaid. In highschool, he joins the swimming team -- why is anybody's guess, probably to ogle the girls in swimsuits. But then a mysterious girl appears, who has a very unusual swimming style and a tendency to swim naked, he is reminded of that mermaid incident...
Obviously, lots and lots of fanservice.