Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Winter 2013 Anime

As a quick note, one of Crunchyroll’s unexpected pick-ups was the second season of AKB0048 which was already on my radar since it showed up on a number of people’s end of year lists, sometimes as a “this turned out way better than expected!” entry. So, even though I’m a little put off my how silly the premise is, I remind myself that I was okay with a silly premise for Aquarion Evol so I’m trying out the fansubs (since crunchy isn’t streaming the first season) and so far so good!

Our heroine has collapsed at the maid cafĂ© where she works and upon waking up can’t remember a thing. A floating spirit tells her that her missing memories are his fault, he came from another world and seems to have displaced her memories by coming here and, while she can regain them by interacting with those around her if she doesn’t she’ll eventually forget how to do even everyday things and slowly die.

Well then, it’s always amusing to see what circumstances an otome game comes up with to explain how you ended up surrounded by attractive and eligible young men, at least this time there’s also a reason why the character was so damn boring to start with. Sadly the guys weren’t anymore interesting than the girl, I’m told that what makes this game unique is that you can actually give the girl a personality based on how you play the game but I’d guess that comes later, this was a really dull episode. Honestly I have nothing against otome games, they actually look like they could be fun to play but watching someone play a dating game is not my kind of entertainment so I’m passing on this one. Honestly the only good thing I can say about this is that the episode was ridicously colorful and rainbow-y, other than that it seems like not even Brain’s Base could save this title (and considering it’s been a number of years since Akikan Brain’s Base is overdue to produce a terrible show).

For those people who don’t mind watching what’s basically a Let’s Play of a Visual Novel can find Amnesia streaming on Crunchyroll and Sentai has licensed the show as well

Chihayafuru 2
Continuing from where the first season left off, Chihaya and the rest of her club continue to improve their karuta skills while persuing their personal goals in the game.

If the year in review post didn’t make it clear, I fell hard for this show and I’m thrilled that it’s back for more (I think it’s 2 cour but I don’t think I’ve seen an actual source for it). I haven’t had a chance to check the staff list but I think some people were changed (I heard it was the people in charge of the series composition, I’m not 100% sure what they actually do to be honest) but the director is the same and this first episode was a seamless transition from the first season to the second. It starts in a good place, shows how Chihaya has already grown, and introduces us to one of the two new club members (the girl Sumire) whom I’m trying to like. I already know from the promo art that she’s here to stay, so I at least need to tolerate her, and her inner thoughts are at least honest about her goals so that makes it easier to like her (plus, she immediately picked up on the meaning of one of the poems and has a great line, “I don’t want to write poems about regret!” which means that oddly enough she might be in just the right club). Now to hope that the pacing and everything else remains as solid as it was in the first season.

Despite my regular pleas the series has yet to be licensed, however Crunchyroll is streaming it (and may have been forced to announce it earlier than they planned because of the number of people bugging them about it, I’m not sorry).

Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East
Several years ago a village burned down under strange circumstances and there were three survivors who were taken in by the local church. However, given that the two boys who survived aren’t exactly normal, it seems like there are even more mysteries surrounding them than the local villagers have guessed.

To be honest I’m not sure what this show is trying to do yet, on one of the forums I frequent someone posted a summary of the original novel (which was odd) and then speculated how that had translated into the manga (which the anime is based on) which was also odd. So I’m having to give it the three episode trial here, so far it was actually more entertaining/engaging than I expected but I’m just hoping it doesn’t go so far that it becomes cheesy.

In a move most people probably expected, Hakkenden has been licensed by Sentai and is being streamed by Crunchyroll.

Maoyuu (Maoyuu Maoh Yuusha Archenemy and Hero)
Based on a novel that was originally serialized in 2ch threads, Hero has struggled to get to the demon lands where he plans to end the war between humans and demons by killing the demon king. Who then turns out to be a very scholarly demon queen who procedes to lecture and prove to him how killing her won’t change anything for the better and, through the power of economics, will actually make things worse for his homelands. She then tries to seduce bring him over to her side to help her end the war in a way that won’t destroy both of their countries.

Everyone has probably already seen this show compared to Spice and Wolf and is sick of it but seriously guys, if S&W was micro-economics then this is macro-economics which holds up fairly well under scrutiny (or so I’m told, economics is not my strong point). The art is an odd mixture of good (lots of detailed backgrounds with textures over them that mimic the original novel art) and the bad (CGI people everywhere!) maybe if they had fewer boob jiggles they could fix this which I hope doesn’t get even worse as the story goes on. I’m a bit worried that the story is only slated for 12 episodes since when the 2ch threads were edited into an actual book it ended up being rather dense and the opening sequence shows events all the way up to where the Kotowaru! Manga is and I have no idea how they’re getting there in only 12 episodes, much less beyond that.

Maoyuu has not been licensed yet but is streaming on Crunchyroll for interested parties.

Tamako Market
An anime original story from Kyoto Animation, Tamako’s family owns a mochi store in a shopping arcade and she’s now being followed around by a talking parrot from a far off land.

I’m not exactly sure what I just watched, I’m fairly sure it wasn’t a parody but it certainly seemed like it at times and at others, well, it was just a bit bland. I remember another blogger (I honestly can’t remember who) saying that they might be more interested in the show if Tamako was an elementary school kid instead of a high schooler(? don’t think she’s in middle school anyway) and I have to agree, if the show is going to be sweet and simple why not age down the character so it feels less forced? Although even that wouldn’t be enough to keep me interested in the show, I also recall reading what the original pitch for the show was like (supposedly, it was more fantasy-esque) and that probably would have kept my attention, at this point I’ll spend my time watching other things instead.

Tamako Market is streaming for US/Canadian audiences on The Anime Network’s website since Sentai has licensed this show as well.

Okay then, what’s carrying over from the fall season that’s keeping me from completely losing faith in this season? Quite a few things it turns out!

Blast of Tempest
By now we’ve passed where I stopped reading the manga and it’s been a pretty wild ride. I’m not exactly sure why there was some anime original stuff (how Yoshino and Mahiru met) in there, padding so the twist matched up with the halfway mark I guess, and I have no idea from here on out what’s anime original. So that’ll be interesting, often I can tell and I’m almost positive that’s what’s going to happen since Bones really likes to do anime only endings. The problem is, lately I haven’t liked any of their endings (for either shows that are adaptions where they’ve had to create endings or the shows that were anime original from the start) and that’s what’s really going to define if I want to buy this show or not.

From the New World 
I’m liking show a bit more now but man the pacing is just a bit uneven. I think part of my problem is that, upon reflection, the story really is from Saki’s point of view (even during flashbacks or when the characters split up we only know what happens when they relate it to Saki) and she’s an accidental unreliable narrator. So it’s rather frustrating to see timeskips where the characters don't remember much about other really important events and I really wish they had included a few scenes to show the viewers that yes, the characters are being manipulated, this isn’t the characters trying to fool the system. But in any case, we’ve one more timeskip coming up and I’m hoping that once the (remaining, I’m totally expecting everyone to be dead by the end of this) characters are adults that that problem will be gone and that I’ll enjoy the show even more.

Well I’ve fallen for this show pretty hard. The setting is still a bit shaky at times (thankfully some fans pieced together that it’s around 100 years in the future which in my mind is far enough along for a major societal shift that would explain the people allowing this psycho-pass system and not revolting, too bad I can’t say that about all of the technology though) but I like the characters. There seems to be two opinions of Akane, a positive and more negative one, and I take a more positive view of her (that she’s smart but young and still learning, and just can’t shoot a shotgun one-handed her first time) and I’m wondering what exactly she’ll develop into. The show is also slowly fleshing out it’s side characters and as long as it keeps doing that and keeps world-building I think I’ll be happy with it, no matter how it ends.

So it appears R;N is taking a cue from it’s older sibling Steins;Gate and waited until around the second half to really pull out the stops and go crazy, if that trailer for the second half is anything to go on. I’m content to let the plot build up and see how it all comes together and so far I’m happy with what it’s done and the pace it’s set, now to see if the writing in the second half will be at least as good (and hopefully stronger) for the last bit.

Space Brothers 
Are we really entering the last part of the show now? I ask this because I found out recently that the show has been, padding itself out so we’re only on around the 8th or 9th volume of the manga out of a planned 30-ish volumes. I’m mostly happy with the pace set (just wish it would speed up a bit!) and it’s still quite refreshing to see adult characters be the main characters and the show has fleshed out everyone really well. Heck, at this rate they’ll have to make the cast even larger just so they have more people to flesh out, think this is the first time I’m saying that!