Spring 2011: First Impressions (Part 1)
I’m way behind schedule (2nd episodes are coming out already!) so I’m forsaking my usual format of 2-3 shows per post, in favour of doing 2 big posts full of shorter gut reaction impressions mainly to save spamming people’s feeds with a glut of posts and also to save me some writing! At this stage I haven’t given any thought as to what I want to blog, just trying to get caught up on things at the moment!
Surprisingly not as terrible as Iron Man or Wolverine! That still doesn’t mean that X-Men can be called ‘good’ in the conventional sense, but I think this is the best of the Marvel/Madhouse collaborations. It’s all very grand and overly dramatic, plus it assumes you have a clue who these characters are before hand (luckily I do, if only from childhood cartoons & those hollywood films) so I wasn’t floundering about in the dark about what was going on when the characters are fighting Jean/Phoenix in the opening sequence. The dialogue is clunky and over acted, with an over reliance on Prof. Xavier for long expositionary monologues to get things moving, Cyclops is skirting the line of Sasuke level emo, Wolverine is a meat-headed idiot & Beast seems to enjoy playing god with his extraordinary intelligence by creating a super intelligent squid.
The animation is pretty good, but the character designs are hilariously over muscled – its like everyone is on a shitload of steroids! The music is pretty bad too – pointlessly dramatic at strange times, it occasionally threatens to drown out the dialogue and made everything just that little harder to take seriously. Which is a shame, because X-Men clearly takes itself incredibly seriously and the overall feeling is that it’s just trying too hard! I’m going to give it a fair chance though, just like I did for Iron Man & Wolverine – 3 episode trial to impress me!
Now this was just plain weird! I have no idea what they’re trying to accomplish with this show, but it fails to be good on any level. The character designs are horrible, the world setting is just odd (war = some sort of Gladiators rip off, who knew!?), things just seem to happen for the sake of it (sure let’s have a dog with a magic dagger teleport our protagonist, that makes sense!), the main character has absolutely no sense of reality (I’m just going to assume this is an elaborate dream and lap up the attention) and its worst crime seems to be that it doesn’t even exploit its stupidity by being silly……its just stupid and expects us to think that’s brilliant!
Urgh, I hate idiotic things like this. The worst thing is that it has a really good cast – its full of ‘hey, it’s that voice!’ moments but it feels like the majority of the budget has been blown on landing these well-known names rather than on decent writers or making the animation look good. Definitely not watching anymore of this, it’s not even ‘so bad its good’.
Nichijou (Everyday Life)
I’m a bit undecided about Nichijou, it’s a bit too much moe and a too little absurdity for my liking – I think I prefered the show when it was called Cromartie High and was full of delinquents. I struggle with plotless comedy at the best of times, it just seems to rub me the wrong way (never did finish Excel Saga or Hare + Guu – not for lack of trying though!) so have the feeling that Nichijou is just going to be another show that I won’t ‘get’. I will say that the 1st episode was much better than the OVA that came out shortly before it, and it did raise a few chuckles – but it was few & far between.
The animation is very simple, none of KyoAni’s usual gloss is really apparent but it is solidly done (although I don’t like how much white & blank space there is in some frames). Voice acting is competent, and the OP is pretty catchy. I’ll give it another 2 episodes because I don’t want to dismiss it out of hand, however if I’m honest I doubt I’ll stick Nichijou out for the duration, its not really my cup of tea as randomness doesn’t really equate hilarity for me.
Hen Zemi TV
It doesn’t work. The thing that was inspired about the Hen Zemi OVA’s was how completely disgusting and uncomfortable they were to watch, they just kept needling and needling at you until you squirmed – yet at the same time they were completely compelling & hilarious. The TV series just doesn’t have that balls out audacity simply due to what it is – a TV series with a much more mainstream audience. We’ve lost the intriguing aspect that looked at sexual perversions and are left with just people being weird – I mean breeding flies in your ear!? Who the hell does that for kicks!? I did have fears that this would happen once I learned Hen Zemi was getting a TV show with the director of Rio: Rainbow Gate at the helm – its unfortunate that those fears weren’t unfounded.
I’ll probably give Hen Zemi another episode, but I don’t think it will be worth watching this muddled, watered down version of the show – its lost its identity in the transition to TV.
This was surprisingly excellent. I went in expecting some bland, moe niceness and was rather surprised by how carefully crafted Hana-saku Iroha is – its got a lot going for it. It’s the writing that the most impressive thing about the show – sure is beautiful to look at as well (PA Works turn out fantastic animation), but the real strength is in how well written the characters and setting are. I mean the whole setup of a put-upon, but optimistic girl abandoned by her selfish mother and sent to live with a strict overbearing grandmother, is a plot lifted right from classic literature (and a staple of Disney princess stories too) – however Hana-saku Iroha never feels contrived, rather it feels fresh and interesting; and I’m impressed.
As I said the animation is beautiful, but another major strength is in the voice acting – there’s no over acting, or cuteness for the sake of being cute; it feels like proper acting (probably because it’s a strong script). The music is nicely done too – which is nice as this season seems to have some really dreadful soundtracks! Overall I’m much more positive about Hana-saku Iroha than I thought I’d be – one to watch for sure!
Oretachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai (Under the Innocent Sky)
I don’t actually know how to articulate how utterly bad this was – but I can say that it was a painful experience to get through the episode! I knew it was going to be terrible when I saw the promo material, but I am actually shocked by how Oretsuba managed to find new and bizarre ways in which to suck donkey balls…….it was an experience I wouldn’t wish upon anyone! The show has absolutely no sense of cohesion – perspective jumps about with no warning, like it was made by a hyperactive child who somehow got its hand on some crack – its just strange. I don’t know who the main characters are meant to be, all I know is that there are an awful lot of characters introduced and not one of them are likeable or normal. We have a group of fellas perving on waitresses (one of which just would not shut up!!), a character that only shows up to proclaim he’s from a parallel universe, and most bizarrely, a loli who urges another character to put the “monster” in his pants in her “kitty”…….I just don’t know what to make of this show, it’s so wrong!
The animation is awful too, horrendously overdone character designs and awful direction (complete with some really odd fanservice – it’s literally just fired in there for the sake of it), and what the hell was with that ED!? The writing is rubbish, the acting is terrible and the music isn’t much better…….its just a mess and nothing could compel me to watch anymore of this!
I’ll make no apologies, I fangirl over Gintama shamelessly and this premiere episode of the new series just seemed to be made of all the things I loved about Gintama. In short I loved it, and sat with a huge grin on my face for the duration of the episode. The shameless parodies, the visual gags, the over exaggerated facial expressions & shouting, the breaking of the fourth wall and complete randomness – it was wonderful to have Gintama back. I prefer this kind of overblown parody based humour to the inane randomness of Nichijou, it just appeals to my stupid sense of humour a lot more.
The animation quality seems to have improved in the switch to HD, the full cast is back in their roles and the OP & ED are among the better offering so the season. I’ll definitely be keeping Gintama’ on (as if there was ever any doubt about that! XD)
Sengoku Otome ~Momoiro Paradox~
Here’s another show where I have no clue what the creators where trying to do. It’s about as vanilla as its possible to get when your female cast is prancing about in tiny bikini’s pretending to be armour. I mean there isn’t even much fanservice for me to get pissed off about, and it’s not like the writing or direction is so unforgivably terrible that I’m frothing at the mouth at the idea of it……for a series with so much potential to be utterly (and hilariously) awful, Sengoku Otome manages to be completely dull & boring – an achievement really. The best bit was at the very end with the dog, because that was a bit different. But overall the show was a parade of boring pointlessness.
Animation, voice acting, music & direction are all passable – nothing overly right or wrong anywhere. Basically Sengoku Otome is ‘meh’ incarnate. Not watching anymore!
Kaji 2: Hakairoku-hen
Zawa-zawa, zawa-zawa~! Oh Kaiji. You’d think the man would have learned his lesson after the finale of season one, but no, he’s just as pathetic in this season – and thank god for that! Yeap, its like Kaiji has never been away – we pick up things a few months after the end of S1 & its business as usual. This first episode does a great job of setting up the next arc, it has Kaiji properly hit rock bottom and sees him stay there due to his phenomenal ability to make terrible decisions and burst into tears whenever the slightest bit of psychological pressure is applied to him. As a main character its hard to find one more flawed than Kaiji, but it’s very compelling to watch him struggle. I’d imagine the pace is going to be just as frustratingly slow as S1 – I was lucky in that I marathoned Kaiji after it ended, and I’m considering doing the same for S2 because dear god can it ever drag things out!
The animation is the same as ever – behold the noses that can double as ice picks! The music & background zawa-zawas are as hilarious as always (but that ED is going to give me nightmares!) and Mr Narrator still sounds way too deliriously happy about Kaiji’s munching on crisps & beer. Basically it’s more of the same & I’m OK with that~!
30-sai no Hoken Taiiku (Health & Physical Education for 30 year-olds)
If you’re going to watch this wait for AT-X’s uncensored version, because the censorship in this renders it entirely pointless. The sheer amount & blantancy of the censoring was actually funny! Whats the point in having a sex-ed programme when everything is going to be censored!? But yeah, everything else about this is terrible – the animation looks like its been done on a shoestring budget, perhaps in someone’s basement on a 2nd hand computer. The voice acting is dire – I’m really, really getting tired of Hiro Shimono’s tendency to shriek at everything – he’s completely been typecast as the loser male lead in these sub-par comedies now, which is a shame because he can act when given decent material!
I may give this another look when the uncensored version comes out, just to see if there’s any value at all beyond laughing at the censorship (doubtful).
Okay~! Think that 10 entries is enough per post, will have another one done tomorrow (or Tuesday).