Monday, January 17, 2011

First Impressions: Winter 2011

No regular review tonight but, partially to help me build up a buffer again, I decided to post some quick first impressions on the new 2011 winter anime. It's not a bad season for anime actually, winter is usually the weakest season for me (I think last year I was just following Durarara! and Tegami Bachi) but this year I've I'm following six shows and four of them are new ones. So, synopsis taken from ANN/MAL (usually I write my own summaries but, since I've only seen one/two episodes I can't do that yet) and now in alphabetical order:

Fractale (noitaminA)
"The story takes place in an island, where a "Fractale System" is beginning to collapse. One day, Clain finds an injured girl called Phryne under a cliff. She disappears leaving a pendant. Crane sets out for a journey with the girl-shaped avatar Nessa to look for Phryne and discovers the secret of the Fractale System."
Only seen one episode of this so far but I can say that the island mentioned appears to be Ireland which is interesting (I honestly can't think of any other anime set in Ireland and several Irish anime fans have said that it's definetly the setting for sure). The plot of the anime didn't grab me to start with (and I have accidentally gotten into an argument with people on the internet whether it was weird or not that Phyrne strips in the first episode...) but the setting seems part Laputa with a bit of Summer Wars thrown in and that has me interested. I love a show where I don't know the plot and can speculate about it so, unless it turns out to be super crappy, I'm sticking with Fractale. For US/Canada viewers it's streaming at Funimation's site/youtube/hulu.

 "GOSICK takes place in 1924 in a small, made-up European country of Sauville. The story centers on Kazuya Kujo, the third son of a Japanese Imperial soldier, who is a transfer student to St. Marguerite Academy, where urban legends and horror stories are all the rage. There he meets Victorique, a mysterious yet beautiful and brilliant girl who never comes to class and spends her days reading the entire content of the library or solving mysteries that even detectives can't solve."
  So far this anime hasn't lived up to my expectations of it sadly. The mysteries in both episodes so far have been ridiculsy easy to solve (I figured out the solution before the situation was fully explained) and for a mystery series that's really bad (I'm told it gets better but at this point I'd really hate to see it get worse). None of the lovely 1920s fashion/architecture so far that I was hoping for (outside of the lovely looking opening song) and I wonder what's the point in even setting the series in the 20s if the characters are still acting like it's the Victorian era. It is streaming on crunchyroll (NA/SA, UK, Africa, part of Europe, ME, Malaysia and the Philippines) and I do have lower standards for what I'll watch legally streamed vs what I'll watch that's fansubbed, so for the moment I'm going to get the most out of my CR trial and keep watching.

Level E
"Tsutsui Yukitaka is a freshman who has finally convinced his parents that he is ready to live on his own. When he arrives at his new apartment, he is surprised to find that someone has arrived before him; A young man who claims that he is an alien and that he is suffering from amnesia."
Despite predating Men in Black by a few years, that and Birdy the Mighty: Decode are the most similar titles I can think of except for the fact that this doesn't involve any alien fighting so far. It's a comedy dealing with the fact that there are dozens of alien species living on Earth and the only people who don't know are the humans. I'm loving the humor so far (which ends up being a two man routine between Yukitaka and Prince, with Prince being far stranger than any of the characters guess) so this is a keeper for me! It's streaming on crunchyroll in the Americas, Western Europe, South Africa, and Australia/New Zealand.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica/Mahou Shojo Madoka Magica
 "Beloved family, good friend, laughs and cries. Just an ordinary life that Kaname Madoka, a second grade student of Mitakihara City Middle School, has lived on. One day, a mysterious encounter has come to her. Was that encounter a chance, or inevitable? She still don't know. An encounter that cause her fate to change, that is a beginning of new magical girl story."
I do like a number of magical girl series and I do like the genre, just not this one. When the story was in dark-what-the-heck-is-going-on mode (complete with trippy imagery!) it was fun but the everyday life parts of the story were rather boring. The show certainly has potential to be really creepy and dark but I'm not that fond of shows by Shaft and since people are calling this the next Nanoha (which I didn't like, side note, never marathon that entire show in one day) for now it's a pass. But I will be keeping an eye on the reviews to see if it ends up being good after all.

Wandering Son (noitaminA)
"Shuicihi Nitori appears to be a shy and quiet preteen boy, when he transfers to a new school he quickly makes friends with the tomboyish Yoshino Takatsuki who sits next to him. It soon becomes apparent that both Shucihi and Yoshino are more than simply a sensitive boy and masculine girl, they both are transgendered. Together they decide to take the first steps toward becoming the people they want to be."
Dear Western YA, why can't you be this awesome? When I think of everything I've read/seen I'm hard pressed to think of more than ten transsexual characters and most of them have been side characters in anime*So when I heard this was being made into an anime (and the story is by the same manga-ka as Aoi Hana which I adored) I was pretty excited. The story is starting in medias res (having skipped the first 33 chapters actually) but from all the summaries I've read I haven't felt lost yet but don't feel connected yet either. Not worried about that however, usually it takes a few episodes for an anime to click with me and I can't wait for more! Streaming on crunchyroll in NA, UK, AU/NZ, Brazil, and parts of Europe.

Yumekui Merry
"Ten years ago Fujiwara noticed he had a power to see multicolored auras surrounding the person's body. Ever since then he's been having a weird dream about a war with cats. Then one day a mysterious girl falls on top of him..."I really wanted to like this anime, the premise sounds cool and Merry reminds me a lot of Alice from Pandora Hearts (which I love). However, between the first episode and the few chapters of the manga I read, it's just not as cool as I hoped for. Also, this show isn't being streamed and I try to watch fansubs only when the show is amazing and I'll buy it for sure once it's licensed. Like Madoka, I'll keep an eye on the review but ultimately, if it does turn out to be a good show I'm sure it'll be licensed and I'll check it out that way instead.

In addition to those four, I'm also still following Star Driver (still fabulous and I haven't had that much fun speculating about a show in a long time) and Letter Bee/Tegami Bachi Reverse (which has me a little worried now that we seem to be getting into anime original territory to set up an anime original ending, also realized that the scanlations fell behind and looked up the RAWS only to discover that what the manga is doing is way cooler). So expect to see reviews for all of those except Gosick sometime in April! Actually, speaking of end of the season anime reviews, my next anime review is the first end of the fall season anime review I have and I still have a ton more reviews to put up. At this rate I'm going to be putting up a review a day until Feburary so look forward to it!

*Let's see, to name them all, the protagonist's sibling in the book Luna, side character in Tamora Pierce's Bloodhound, a number of sides and one main in Satoshi Kon's Millennium Actress, a couple of side characters in the anime Shangri-La, two mains in the webcomic Khaos Komic, and that's it. Might be able to come up with one or two later but since it took three mediums for me to come up with that many I think my point is made.