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Autumn 2009 – First Impressions (To Aru Kagaku no Railgun, Letter Bee and The Sacred Blacksmith)

October 3, 2009

More copy-pasta-ness!  Railgun, Tegami Bachi and Sacred Blacksmith!

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun:

Pretty good first episode here – manages to reintroduced the characters we’re familiar with from Index and set up the two new girls quite well too…….seems that Railgun could be worth watching afterall! On reflection I was quite impressed with Index at the beginning as well, so you never know. However Railgun has taken the elements I liked in Index and built on them – namely the interesting setting, great animation and the best character in the series, Misaka. An increased focus on the espers and Academy City itself is welcome as Index was more concerned with the magicians infiltrating Academy City than anything else.

This first episode was pretty typical of an introductory episode otherwise – you really don’t need to have watched Index beforehand, as they’re basically starting from scratch (although Touma does cameo in the OP animation……..which was put in place of the ED this week). The animation is just as nice as in Index, JC Staff have not slacked on that at all – its wonderfully smooth and the action scenes are fun to watch.

Voice acting is pretty solid…….although Kuroko is as irritating as ever, never liked that yuri loli anyway. The two new characters are pretty bland so far, but thats to be expected when they’ve only just been introduced. The OP replaced the ED this week – and I really liked it. Both the song and the animation were pretty good.

I’ll be keeping this one on for a bit to see what way they are going to proceed – but the second it seems the show is going the same way as Index I’m jumping ship!

Tegami Bachi (Letter Bee):

Well I decided to watch the OVA last week since it appeared on my RSS feed, and ever since I’ve been looking forward to this series – the 1st episode did not disappoint! Really liked this, the plot seems interesting and it’s really very pretty I really like the atmosphere of the show – a land of eternal twilight swarming with giant armoured insects (although nothing like those other armoured insects in Chrome-shelled Regios ) and Postal workers that double as fighters; it’s all comes together much better than it sounds on paper. Not the most exciting of 1st episodes, its very much focused on Gauche and Lag and setting up the world rather than being all flashy action – but I like this as it does promise good things regarding character development.

The characters are appealing – the excellent voice cast helps ( Jun Fukuyama as Gauche! )……..Lag is a bit irritating, but he’s only seven at this point – I’m assuming he’ll get better (was much more likeable in the OVA where he’s 12). This episode mainly serves to set up the world and the particulars of the Letter Bee system and how they fight the big insect thingys; and it does that very well.

In terms of animation its very pretty – since this world is always in twilight there are a lot of blues and purples used, and there are constantly falling stars; it all makes for a nicely designed, unique looking landscape. The character designs are very nice and on the bishie side

The OP and ED were pretty good too as was the background music. So overall a very positive 1st episode, will definitely be keeping this series on – hope it doesnt disappoint!

The Sacred Blacksmith:

Ok I wanted to like this, but kind of got bored midway and zoned out – it’s just very generic There isnt really any sign of Manglobe’s personal stamp on this series, apart from the better than average animation and excellent direction choices -its pretty to look at, but there just isnt a lot of substance there.

The characters are painfully ordinary – we’ve seen these archetypes over and over again in similar series. Cecily is a pretty redhead with a lot of good intentions, but ultimately lacks any skill and constantly needs rescuing by Luke – the typical aloof hero archetype, complete with mad sword skillz and the ability to forge them mid battle Oh yeah and this show has a major case of ‘Katana’s are just better’ going on as Luke uses them and he’s the only swordsman that doesnt suck Oh and lets not forget about Luke’s loli sidekick – although she’s not just as irritating as most (yet).

So yeah, not much love for the plot at the moment. The animation on the other hand, is excellent. Really rich colours, lots of attention to details (although has the typical main characters get outlandish costumes compared to mooks syndrome) and I was impressed by the action choreography – lots of variety on display, not just hack and slash. The crystal monster thing looked like it was made of icecubes though

The BGM was pretty impressive and the OP was also pretty good……..but then there was that ED. Oh god the ED Who on earth let Aki Toyosaki near a microphone again!? Was it not enough that I sat through her awful cutsey singing in K-ON!? Yeah – won’t be watching the ED again thats for sure.

I’m being quite cynical arent I? Sacred Blacksmith is not a bad show, I’ll be keeping it on for a while yet to see if it improves – at the moment its a generic fantasy series with above average animation. Proper development could make it more interesting – fingers crossed that this is the case and Manglobe produce an interesting series.

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