August 11th, 2011

Bishoujo squad!

New anime in July

Wow, the new season's been going for about five weeks now, and still I haven't posted my thoughts on the new offerings. Time to remedy that.

Ikoku Meiro no Croisée: Set in Paris in the 1800s, in a slightly run-down mall. Yune, a Japanese girl who works as a servant in a shop, comes back to France with Oscar, the uncle of Claude, a shopowner in the mall. Of course, the difference in culture makes for some (initial) misunderstandings, but since everyone is (eventually) of good will, the differences are ironed out.
Slice of life that keenly demonstrates the cultural differences between 'the west' (1800's France) and 'the east' (Japan). And it has a gorgeous look to it too.

Mayo Chiki!: Kanade is the school idol: pretty, smart, rich. She has a butler, Subaru, follow her around and cater to her every whim. And then one bad day, Kinjirou discovers that Subaru is actually a girl, and not a boy. But Subaru made a deal with Kanade's father that she would be Kanade's butler without anyone finding out that she's a girl - so clearly Kinjirou must be disposed of! And then Kanade gets involved as well, making poor Kinjirou's life very difficult.
This one plays by the numbers: pantyshots, random violence and a male lead who is the victim of the females. Needless to say we'll be giving this one a pass.

Blood-C: Saya lives with her father in a shrine. In the morning, she goes to eat breakfast in the café down the hill and then goes to school. And after school, she takes a huge sword from the shrine and fights monsters who appear as levitating Jizo statues. All in a day's work!
It's CLAMP, so it looks very nice, it'll have a great cast of characters, and the direction of the fight scenes is incredible. One to watch!

Kamisama Dolls: Kuga comes from a village that is ruled by the priests of a certain shrine -- their orders are absolute. Kuga moved to the city to get away from it all, but one night he is pursued by Aki, an old frenemy from the village. It turns out that some people from the village can summon 'dolls': gods that do their bidding, and Aki is not above using his to wreck havoc. Luckily, Kuga's younger sister Utao appears with her own doll, and she defends Kuga.
Interesting premise, filled with mystery and action. Could be nice, but the difference between the CGI dolls and the cell animation is kinda obvious...

Ro-Kyu-Bu!: Subaru used to be in the basketball team, until it got disbanded because of some trouble with the captain. Then his aunt, who works as a teacher, forces him to coach a girls' basketball team on her elementary school. These girls are absolute beginners, and Subaru has to make a coherent team out of them -- while struggling with each of the girls' personalities.
Within five minutes we knew it wasn't for us: girls with squeaky voices who dress up in maid outfits to impress their new coach? Sure, but not on our watch.

The Idolm@ster: Thirteen girls are member of the talent agency 765 Productions, trying to make it big in the competitive world of idols... Too many characters, too few likeable ones.

Usagi Drop: Daikichi goes back home for his grandfather's funeral. It turns out that his grandfather had an illegitimate child with a much younger woman -- so now Daikichi has an aunt who is about ten years old! Rin, the girl, is quiet, thoughtful and well-behaved, unlike Daikichi's bratty niece -- but nobody wants to take her in. After much hemming and hawing, his family seems to think they should have someone take her off their hands. Daikichi is annoyed by his family's irresponsibility and decides to take her in himself.
Lovely quiet series with sincere characters and a gorgeous look. Just the way I love 'em.

Mawaru Penguindrum: Kanba and Shouma live together with their sister Himari. Himari is seriously ill, and during a visit to the zoo one day, her illness catches up with her and she dies. And then she is resurrected due to a spirit in a penguin hat. The three of them get their own invisible penguin familiars, and the spirit occasionally gives orders to the two boys. It is looking for the Penguindrum, and gives only vague hints. Wanting to keep their sister alive, the twin brothers go along with its wishes, which brings them into contact with various weird characters...
I had to see two episodes of it before I could decide whether I wanted to see it. But it looks gorgeous, has a nice visual style, and the total weirdness is awesome. I mean, invisible penguins used to spy on people -- who could resist that?

No. 6: After the last great war, humanity is decimated. The survivors formed six city-states under a treaty. Sion is a resident of No. 6, part of the elite of the city. The city caters for its citizen's every need -- but one evening, when Sion is alone in his room, he finds a fugitive seeking shelter. Sion takes him in, and finds out there is a dark side to the seemingly ideal city...
Looks gorgeous (check the wind in the trees during the opening scenes of the first episode!) and promises lots of subterfuge and adventure, with a likable lead character. One to watch!

Sacred Seven: Tandoji is a tough-looking guy who keeps to himself. But then one day he is asked by rich girl Aiba to help her in her fight against some kind of monster. Tandoji is reluctant, but then his powers awaken and he turns into some sort of crystal monster, so he can defeat the other crystal monster. Meanwhile, Aiba and her minions race around in helicopters and expensive cars, getting in the way. And then Tandoji defeats the bad guy and learns that his weird dreams have some mysterious cause that Aiba can tell him all about.
Lots of shouting and ill-defined superpowers with ill-defined causes and ill-defined effects. Everything to get a good fight, right? Except it's just the same standard shounen manga plot being rehashed.

Morita-san wa Mukuchi: Short animation about a girl who rarely speaks. Totally pointless, but at least it's short, so you don't have to endure it for long.

Mahou no Star Magical Emi: Retrosub. Mai wants to be a magician like the rest of her family -- but she is too young to participate. But she finds a 'mirror fairy' called Topo who grants her the power to turn into Magical Emi, who can do real magic! She saves the show of her grandparents using her magic!
Mid-80's magical girl series with all the usual ingredients. Not our thing.

Nichijou: Also called "My Ordinary Life". But there's not much ordinary about it, with little girl professors and their clockwork household robots who end up on the roof, and other zaniness. The designs are rather basic, and there's not really a plot -- just weird characters mixed together. Too random for our tastes.

Nurarihyon no Mago: Sennen Makyo: Straight continuation of the previous Nurarihyon series. This one starts off with providing more backstory on how Rikuo came to embrace his Youkai blood. The first series was fun, this should be OK too.

Nyanpire the Animation: A dying kitten is saved by a passing vampire. So now a vampiric kitty roams the streets! The designs are totally basic, but the idea is fun enough to endure it.

Appleseed XIII: A new reincarnation of the Appleseed franchise. This time it's all done in CGI, which means the mecha look gorgeous and the character animation is in that uncanny valley style. Previous knowledge is not required, as we are gently introduced to the characters and their backstory. And we get thrown into the thick of things immediately with terrorist threats and all!
But ultimately, I just couldn't care enough (and/or look past the crappy character animation). But then again, I've never seen the original.

Dantalian no Shoka: Hugh receives a letter from his uncle's sollicitor: he has inherited his uncle's country manor. It's almost like the beginning of a Lovecraft story! And indeed, there resides a demon in his uncle's house: Dantalian, in the form of a proper young girl (of course). She is the guardian of a series of books of forbidden knowledge, which are sealed away in her 'mystic archives'. She assists Hugh in solving a case where monstrous circus-acts escape a book and murder one of the rivals of Hugh's uncle.
This is what To Aru Majutsu no Index should have been: a proper young gentleman and a proper young lady undertaking adventures to protect humankind from demonic books! And of course, there is tea. They're British, after all.

Prince of Tennis: Another Story: More like "Prince of Tennis: the Continuation of the Previous Story, and My God Who Are All These Characters and Why Should I Care!?"

Natsume Yujin-cho San: Third Natsume series! We liked the first and second one a lot, and this had the same look and feel of the preceding series. One we'll be sure to watch.

Double J: Apparently, this anime was devised to interest young people in the traditional crafts. I would advise them to think up something of a plot and shell out for something better than a four-minute Flash-style animation.

Uta no Prince-sama - Maji Love 1000%: A highschool for the performing arts, filled with pretty boys! Haruka enters this school in order to write songs for a has-been (male) idol, and befriends various of the high-potentials of the school. It'll turn out to be a totally stupid reverse-harem story, but we decided to watch it solely for the over-the-top performance of Norio Wakamoto as the school principal (and former idol) Shining Saotome.

Manyuu Hikenchou: During the shogunate period, a secret clan had final say over who had big breasts! They regularly conducted "tit hunts". And then one day, the clan leader decides to defect, taking the family heirloom sword with her!
Stupid and offensively sexist. The makers use whiteout to censor the worst scenes -- and sometimes all that's left is only a small corner of the screen. Why anyone would watch it is beyond me.

Itsuka Tenma no Kuro-Usagi: Taito lacks any motivation: he simply waits for the days to pass him by. But there is a forgotten memory of a pact with a girl called Himea, when he was little. When he remembers, the chains that bind her in some unpleasant dimension start to crumble. Taito turns into a zombie, which he finds out when he gets run over by a truck and loses his head...
It could be interesting, but none of the characters are likable, and the "forgotten childhood friend"-trick needs to be retired.

Yuru Yuri: The story of four girls who comprise the "entertainment club" at a school where club attendance is compulsory. Which is to say that they hang around in the teahouse that used to be the property of the disbanded tea ceremony club, reading manga and discussing nothing of importance. One of the senpai is a cosplay freak, and one of the kouhai is a cute girl, with the rest trying to keep them apart.
You know I don't mind the occasional bishoujo series, but this is too light on actual content even for my tastes!