Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Anime Reviews: Moyashimon Returns

The other noitaminA show and a returning one at that, although Moyashimon had a really long hiatus and I'm baffled how it came back in the first place. Picking up right where the first season left off, so this is not the kind of sequel where you can jump right in if you haven't seen the first part, the story continues to follow the strange students in the Itsuki Seminar and their even weirder adventures with microbes.

Moyashimon Returns

Summary: Sawaki, a first year student at the University of Agriculture, has the odd ability to see microbes which, given that he's the son of a sake brewer and has fallen in with a group of people clustered around a microbes professor, comes up in his day to day life than one would expect. Especially now as the group gets ready for the school's fall harvest festival and plans to sell alcohol as a way to generate funds, but given that one of their number vanishes shortly beforehand that might be the least of their worries.

The Good: The first half of the series with the fall festival was rather fun, even though I wish it hadn't happened so soon after the spring festival (which was my favorite of the two for sheer whackiness). It was nice to see Kei again (I was worried that they wouldn't appear at all in this season since they still seemed to be sorting their own life out), really all the characters since this show's strongest point is its weird cast of characters and the hijinks they get themselves into.  

The Bad: Moyashimon works best when it has it's entire cast to work with and just lets them all bounce off of each other. Given that the cast was split up for over half the season the jokes it can make gets really limited and I just got bored of the characters after a bit. On a related note, Hasegawa has always been one of the more fleshed out characters in the series but it still felt odd for her to have an entire character development arc while no one else had one. Also, she didn't really get any development here, she barely changed in the end (her motivation for staying in school may have changed but the end result, that she's staying in school to study microbes, didn't) and in such a short series it felt a bit out of place. I didn't like any of the new characters in the show either, Marie felt like the author combined Sawaki and Kei into one character and Hasegawa's fiancee felt flat the entire time (it felt like he had issues but I wasn't really sure what, inadequacy?). 

The Audio: The ending does follow in the noitaminA tradition of having at least one song with odd images to accompany it (although I didn't pay much attention to the ED since I didn't like the song, it was quite catchy however, and it was done in some unattractive looking CGI) but the opening song looked and sounded so generic it was rather sad. Other than that, obviously most of the cast is the same as the first season and everyone was fine, I was more focused on how the show looked than how it sounded.

The Visuals: As this image sums up, the character designs changed a LOT for this season (poor Sawaki also looks more like a high school student than a college one now) which I have to admit frustrates me. Actually, why does a company need brand new designs for a new season, is there a technical reason they can't simply use the old designs for the reoccuring characters? Regardless, this whole season looks like it had a bit of a lower budget than before, I was unnerved when I realized that the mouths on Those Two Guys (Misato and Kawahama) only moved sometimes, I couldn't figure out if there was any rhyme or reason to it or if the animators only did it when they had the time. It's a bit of a let down from the previous season, and it's not like the first season had mind-blowingly good art either, and certainly doesn't help it out.

So another miss for me and I'm really not sure what to say. I was hoping that this season would have a more solid ending so I could say "Yes, watch Moyashimon and Moyashimon Returns!" but now I feel like adding onto that "but there's not really an ending, the manga hasn't been published in the US for years, probably will never be published again, and I'm pretty sure it's still running in Japan but I think I've also heard it's been on hiatus numerous times, yeaaaaaaah." If you still want to watch it, and it is a fun show a lot of the time, crunchyroll is now streaming both seasons (which I take to mean that probably no one is ever going to license it now which is also sad). Finally, I'm probably alone in this but, can we make the segments with microbes talking about how stuff works a bit shorter? By the end of the series they were just getting on my nerves and I just couldn't care about how microbes play an integral role in the formation of yet another food.