January 10th, 2009

Viking!

Finished series: Druaga no To: The Aegis of Uruk

We've finished watching Druaga no To: The Aegis of Uruk. My frist-episode review is here.

Years ago, the demon Druaga built a tower, filled with monsters, and waged war with the humans. The hero Gilgamesh climbed the tower and defeated the demon many years ago. But recently, monster activity has risen again, and the tower is once again teeming with monsters! The humans have fought a bitter battle and cleared the first floor of the tower from monsters. They built a stronghold city there, and it is there that adventurers (known as 'Climbers') gather. There is fame and fortune to be gathered in the higher floors! Most notably there's the Blue Crystal Rod, which will grant any wish -- but of course that's Druaga's personal item...

Main character is Jil, who went to the tower to join his older brother who is also a Climber. At first, Jil joins his brother's party, but he is worse than useless (leading to a very amusing 'dream'-sequence) and so he gets kicked out. He finds himself new party members and becomes entangled in the machinations of the royal court. Then the "Summer of Ainu" comes, when the monsters are at their weakest, and the mad rush towards the top of the Tower begins! There are various factions battling each other over who gets to fight Druaga for the Blue Crystal Rod, and there's some intrigue and backstabbing involved too...

The series is an interesting mix of very serious moments and total slapstick. There's quite a bit of excitement to be had in the fights and tight spots where Jil's party finds itself in, but there are also very lighthearted episodes that offer a bit of relief from all the action. In my view, that's really the perfect combination: there's a cool plot, but the series doesn't take itself so seriously so there's also room for plain fun.
The concept comes from an arcade game that was released in 1984 - wherein you play as Gil(gamesh). There's one episode where Jil is put through the floors in the arcade game (guided by his party members), and the things they make him do match up exactly with the actual video game.
I have been thinking of running an RPG in this setting -- it's just so much fun.

Visually, the series is stunning. This being a Gonzo series, the digital effects are very, very good -- but unlike some other Gonzo series, the character animation is stunning as well. The visual style is semi-realistic, though the armor is of Lodoss-proportions...
There's not much character development -- the series is only 12 episodes, so there's not much room for complex interactions. Only Jil rises above himself, from simple farm-boy to hero, which is fun to watch. The other characters stay rather 'fixed', though there are some plot-twists waiting there. The interactions between the characters are fun: the comedy comes mainly from the washed-up magician and his nagging cook,

Good points:
- Interesting premise;
- Doesn't take itself too seriously;
- Lots of serious moments, but also lots of fun.
Bad points:
- No room for complex character interactions;
- Too short.

It's very light viewing, but the plot lifts it above 'mere fluff'. Very fun, and I can't wait for the second series to start! I'll give this one a 8.5.
Bishoujo squad!

New season anime

Some new anime from this and the previous season:

Minami-ke Okaeri: Further adventures of the Minami sisters. The format hasn't changed at all -- neither has the visual style or the jokes.

Asu no Yoichi!: Yoichi has lived with his father on the mountain, training in an exotic style of swordplay. His father can't teach him anything anymore, and so he sends Yoichi to a friendly family that teaches the same style in the city. (Said family of course consists of four sisters...) Yoichi is, of course, ill-adjusted for life in the city -- he gets in all sorts of mishaps and misunderstandings, some of which involve underwear... Fun enough, with not too much fanservice. Weird to see a 4:3 aspect ratio for anime these days, though...

Kiss x Sis: A perverted OVA about the twins Reiko and Ako who lust after their step-brother Keita. He's not very interested, but his two sisters won't leave him alone and are in some sort of competition. Of course, that spirals out of control, but their parents don't seem to mind too much. Fanservice (and worse!) all over the place.

Astro Fighter Sunred: Sunred is a valliant fighter for justice, who lives in Kawasaki city and, while he isn't out fighting evil, lives like a total geezer and annoys his girlfriend. (How he can smoke cigarettes without taking his helmet off is still a mystery to me.) The evil organisation Florsheim Army sends their monsters to kick his ass from time to time, which annoys Sunred a lot -- he just wanted to hang around in the park and eat his beef bowl!
Funny stuff, a total parody of the heroic TV series like Kamen Rider etcetera.

Da Capo If: A continuation of the continuation of the original Da Capo. We stopped watching after the first season, so we don't really know what happened, and after seeing the first episode, we've decided we don't really care either.

Michiko to Hatchin: Michiko is one tough lady who is incarcerated in a maximum security prison -- but she manages to escape. While she was in prison, a priest and his wife have taken care of Hachi, her daughter -- but they're lousy foster-parents and are only in it for the money. Hachi is forced to work in the household, and to endure the bullying from the two children of the priest. But then Michiko comes to take her daughter away -- the two scarcely know each other, and while Hachi is shy and demure (all initiative and rebelliousness beaten out of her), Michiko doesn't give a rat's ass about anybody else's opinion of her! Together, they set off into the sunset...
It'll be interesting to see how mother and daughter manage to get used to each other, and how they fare.

Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou: Straight continuation of the first Natsume Yuujinchou series. The first episode does a good job of introducing the Book of Friends and what it means. In the first series (which we've already seen but which I haven't written a review yet), Natsume sort og 'grows up' and learns to trust other people. I hope that this series will show his bonds with his foster parents and his friends at school deepen.

Zettai Shougeki - Platonic Heart: Aya is a pretty good fighter, but that got her into a social isolation from her classmates in middle school. Now in high school she manages to make some friends. But one day, when she and her friend walk back from school, they witness an all-out fight between two women (an airflight attendant and a miko, to be precise). Her friend gets caught up in it, and Aya steps up and beats the crap out of the stewardess, earning the gratitude of the miko. It turns out that there's some sort of all-women martial arts tournament going on, for the 'Platonic Heart'. That's some sort of jewel that will grant any wish. The miko drops out of the tournament because she now has friends (Aya and her friend), and her spot is offered to Aya, who now has to fight the stewardess again!
It's an OVA, so they could draw real nipples on the stewardess -- yes, it's one of those series, where a kick to the stomach will rupture clothing...

Akikan!: Daichi drinks from a can of melon soda, which turns into a beautiful girl! He is now her 'owner' and she wants him to drink from her now and then... Of course, there are others who are interested in this phenomenon, but in the first episode they don't play a role of importance in the first episode. Yes, it's one of those series again, with a perverted single teenaged guy living together with a subservient shy girl under suspicious circumstances.