Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fall Anime 2011 Reviews: Part one!

Well then, Funimation is actually not doing a same day simulcast for Last Exile: Fam of the Silver Wing and since the show isn't airing until Monday I'm just going to leave a blank for it here and fill it in later on, I just won't have the time to do both of these posts later in the week and I've seen everything else I'm interested in. I also don't have a mid-season retrospective for what I'm still following this time around since the only show I'm following that halfway done is Mawaru Penguindrum (I ended up dropping Nura since it wasn't doing anything for me and I don't regret it) and I didn't want to make a post about a single show. I'm still loving the series to pieces for it's strangeness and strong plotline and between this and Star Driver earlier in the year it's really obvious now what parts of Utena were from Enokido and what parts were from Ikuhara, I might need to do a big post comparing all three when this one finishes up.

As for the new shows I'm doing this in the same style as before, I've seen at least one episode of each new show (more in some cases, it just depends on when the series aired) and I will try out the first series via fansub if I'm really curious about it. However, since I try to watch one (if that many) series fansubbed each season and I'm still following Penguindrum I won't be watching any new series that don't have a simulcast no matter how promising they seem.

 Chihaya Furu
Originally I wasn't interested in this series when the charts started coming out (I've enjoyed sports anime before and I've even read a large part of the Hikaru no Go manga) but I normally don't find the shows that interesting. Then I heard that this was a josei series so I decided to give it a shot and at least try to show that there is a small demand for more well done shojo/josei series, plus it was being simulcast over on crunchyroll and I still have a membership there. The first two episodes have been mostly flashbacks explaining how Chihaya became interested in the Japanese card game furata and those two episodes just blew me away. While Chihaya is oblivious and naieve she also has some remarkably perceptive moments, is stubborn and has a strong sense of what's right and wrong, what else can you want in a heroine? I'm curious to see how much of her personality, if any, has changed once all the flashbacks are over but I can see myself really enjoying this show (especially since it has 2-cour to try and pace everything right, too bad the manga it's based on isn't finished yet).

Future Diary
If I had posted this even one day earlier I would have said that this seemed like a cool series but since it wasn't being simulcast I wouldn't continue watching it but lo and behold it got a simulcast earlier today with the Funico agreement so I can watch it after all (a similar thing happened with Croisee in the summer season actually, makes me glad I wait a little bit to post these reviews). I read the first volume of the manga years ago and thought it was interesting so I was curious to see if it was as cool (but kinda disturbing) as I remembered and it appears that yes, this is a story with an insane yet cool premise (god of time and space gets bored so he gives 12 people future diaries to kill each other with and the victor takes his place, doesn't help that this god seems to like chaos) and characters who are just plain nuts (because sane people wouldn't take this as an opportunity to go murder each other). This show is also two-cour and the manga is finished at 12 volumes so I hope that's enough to tell the whole story.

Guilty Crown
The first of the two noitaminA shows, Guilty Crown is a curious show since it follows in noitaminA's recent trend of anime original stories and is only the fourth show in this timeslot to be two-cour, hopefully this means that the story will end up being better than the timeslot's other recent anime original stories (Fractal, [C]). All of that said, this is not a traditional noitaminA show and really shows how the timeslot it now trying to appeal to 2channer's/anime fans with deep pockets instead of it's older/more fringe audience from even a year ago. The premise is similar to Code Geass (with whom it shares some key staff) or any other show that has an apathetic/weak male lead who is given a mysterious power by a beautiful, out of the ordinary girl with connections to a group of rebels in Japan's dystopian, ruled by a foreign power future. It's not original but so far it's really pretty, the first few minutes before the title rolled were beautiful and would have dragged me into the show even if I hadn't already been interested in it. Funimation has the simulcast for this series and I hope it does well for them, also hope that the plot does well since I'm tired of being disappointed by noitaminA shows in the final act.

Last Exile: Fam of the Silver Wing
Not counting the flash anime they put out the summer season, this is Studio Gonzo's first anime in a few years and it's a good thing that such a controversial studio (they've produced some good work and some awful work over the years, their last series Shangri-La was sadly one of the later) is starting off with a sequel to one of their best known titles. Starting a few years after the first series ended, Last Exile: Fam is set on Earth where the Ades Federation is slowly conquering all the lands and has now turned their eyes to the Turan Empire. This doesn't concern Fam and her copilot Giselle as much, they're sky pirates and beholden to no one, but after seeing the Ades turn against Turan in the peace talks Fam offers to save the two princesses of Turan if the sky-pirates get their ship later on. In some ways it's a lot like the first two episodes of the original Last Exile (ordinary pilots getting caught between two warring countries and might possibly have a way to end the war) and while the art worked has been slightly "moe-fied" compared to the original show the characters already feel like real people and not cardboard cut-outs. Finally, a great thing about this show is that people are finally posting links to all the backstory about the original story and I'd encourage everyone whose seen the original series to read it (this timeline is a great place to start), partially to refresh your memories and also because it really clears up the ending of the original and helps explain the background of this series. 

Phi Brain
I saw a few other reviewers say good things about this show so I decided to give it a whirl, although it took me a few minutes since I was sure I had seen crunchyroll pick it up for a simulcast but it appears that I was mistaken and this show is unlicensed thus far. However, while the premise of the series sounded interesting (a puzzle obsessed world and the main character is really good at solving them), the presentation just didn't work for me since the show took itself way too seriously and in doing so felt too illogical. Supposedly hard puzzles that the rest of the cast couldn't solve seemed quite simple to the audience and a secret underground (literally) society that, erm, does something with life-threatening puzzles just felt too silly to me. Maybe if this was simulcast I would give it another episode (although it seems as if the second episode was worse than the first) but for the moment I've dropped it.

And here is part two!


  1. I did not watch Star Driver. I was interested in it but by the time I started to pay attention it got mixed reviews.

    But I am curious to know how it is similar to Utena (besides Yōji Enokido's involvement). How does it's similarities with Utena differ from Penguindrum's similarities?

    As for the fall season Chihaya Furu is by far my favorite, nothing else comes close. I did not watch Future Diary though. Hearing that the manga is finished though makes me wonder if I should check it out.

  2. I actually have a big post on my LJ about all of the similarities between Star Driver and Utena, right now I see more between SD and Utena than I see between Penguindrum and Utena actually. SD has the same kind of structure that Utena had while Penguindrum has the symbolism and utter strangeness Utena had so that makes it easy to guess what part of the show was Enokido's work and what part was Ikuhara's.

  3. I think symbolism and utter strangeness are the two things I associate the most with Utena (well and feminism). In many ways I feel watching Utena prepared me for Penguindrum.

    But your review is very positive of Star Driver so I guess you would recommend it then?

  4. I seem to be in the minority since I enjoyed the show but I found it to be a fun show with flashy fight scenes that made a real effort to flesh out as many characters as it could. It's being streamed on a few different websites so you might as well try out the first few episodes when you have a chance.