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Spring 2011: First Impressions (Part 1)

April 10, 2011

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!

X-Men

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!

Dog Days

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.

Hana-saku Iroha

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!

Gintama’

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).

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. April 10, 2011 8:32 pm

    “abandoned by her selfish mother ” sounds familiar 😐

    • April 11, 2011 5:28 pm

      *pat pat* don’t be bitter……and I’m not your mother 😛

  2. April 10, 2011 10:34 pm

    I haven’t caught all of these, but I tend to agree with your comments where I have seen the show. In particular, I was impressed by Hanasaku Iroha. It does look fantastic, but the situation presented was quite engaging. At first I felt her mom was a bit of a story contrivance, but, when we meet HER mom (or ex-mom) it actually works quite well. It is easy for me to imagine the proprietress disowning her daughter, given that daughter’s complete lack of responsibility. It is easy to imagine Hana’s mom running away from miss slappy-slap. It is even somewhat understandable that the proprietress would think ill of (or at least be suspicious of) her grand daughter, given that all she knows of her, seemingly is that she is the product of an utterly responsible parent. Very convincing start to the series.

    • April 10, 2011 10:35 pm

      crap. “utterly IR-responsible parent”

    • April 11, 2011 5:30 pm

      Its refreshing to see a series so keen on character development – everyone may be one dimensional at the moment, but there is a real feeling that Hanasaku Iroha is going to spend time fleshing everyone out.

  3. April 10, 2011 11:15 pm

    Xmen- Not bad seems like Madhouse has learned a few lessons from Iron man and Wolverine, the animation for the first episode was amazing! But the story might be really crappy. However I shall watch just to see what happens 😀 Wolverine looks freaking strange! Lol

    Dog days- No thanks! Saw episode one and got bored with the 2nd half no thanks

    Nichijou- I dunno I really liked that Ova and first episode, but I can see where people would drop that if they are not into LOL random comedy. No real plot either so if you want some plot driven comedy probably should look at something else.

    Hana-saku Iroha- Amazing first episode! Can’t wait to see more of this, I hated her mom and grandma so much! But I guess that will make for some excellent drama. I also like the main girls voice so good xD All I hear is Saten from Railgun ❤

    Oretachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai- Yeah this seems strange to me, but I think episode one is just a introduction to the characters. Episode two might be more story less random moment, but it does seem to be really boring.

    Gintama- YES! Must watch that 202 episode once my brother quits being lazy about it D: I only saw up to 90+ on season one, but from what I heard you can jump right into this new one. I did show my brother the movie they put out, just so he can get a feel for the main characters.

    Sengoku Otome- Might give it two more episodes until I drop it fully, I did a quick review of it. Seems really unoriginal to me! Such a Inuyasha rip off or Dog days? LOL.

    Last two I didn't even bother with! Sorry for the massive comment lolol Glad to see you are back =D

    • April 11, 2011 5:34 pm

      Gintama is definitely a show you can dip in and out of as it doesn’t really have very many straight story arcs, very much looking forward to watching this season~!

      Tis good to be back, think I can avoid crippling my arm if I don’t get ahead of myself & try to write too much in one go ^_^

  4. Hogart permalink
    April 10, 2011 11:18 pm

    I’d say X-Men is basically on par with the old SatAM cartoon. It’s really not that over-acted when compared to the average anime, which is of course the problem: it threatens to be average.

    Nichijou just bores me. I can usually at least see the appeal to an off-beat comedy even when it’s unfunny to me, but this feels like it’s overcompensating for lameness with boring moemoe.

    Tiger and Bunny seems ok, in spite of some rather questionable cliches. But it grabbed me for two reasons: it seems conscious of those cliches, and isn’t yet another show about annoying highschool kids.

    I have high hopes for Hanasaku Iroha. I like PA Works as an animation company but their self-produced anime have all been duds for me because of a terrible sense of storytelling. If Iroha has that problem nipped in the bud then I’m all for it.

    • April 11, 2011 5:39 pm

      The depressing thing is that I only really want the X-Men anime to be average – at least that would be an improvement on the ‘godawful’ & ‘dire’ of the other Marvel/Madhouse collabs!

      Tiger & Bunny seems promising as its attempting something different and it is indeed nice to see another show with adults in the main roles.

  5. April 11, 2011 12:33 am

    Oretachi is one strange show and it felt so dull and confusing. The plot was all over the place in the first episode that I was left confused. So many cute girls, but too much gratuitous fanservice kind of ruins the experience… I’ll just watch the next two episodes for the heck of it, but it’s probably going to be dropped. It makes me wonder if Shuffle is done in the same manner, if it even matters.

    Nichijou is slightly enjoyable, but not compared to K-ON and to a lesser extent, Lucky Star… I must be comparing this too much… but I’ll definitely continue.

    Hanasaku Iroha is the most promising out of the bunch and kind of changed their gears after the spectacular mess they did with Angel Beats. I liked the animation and Ohana is just so adorable…

    • April 11, 2011 5:44 pm

      No Shuffle has a pretty straightforward storytelling style (even if that story is crap) nothing like this convoluted mess of a series.

      As I said I don’t do well with random plotless comedy or ‘cute girls doing cute things’ anime – K-ON! was my personal hell.

      I kind of liked Angel Beats – it was a lot of fun even if it turned into a huge trainwreck. I like that PA Works is so ambitious, and hope that they continue to try new things with Hanasaku Iroha.

      • April 15, 2011 12:34 am

        The problem I saw with Angel Beats is that they were trying to put in a rather important climax towards the end of the episode, which made the ending have a bad feeling. Of course, the action and comedy scenes did not blend well with the intense drama thrown into it. But I cannot say I haven’t enjoyed it since I did.

        That’s saying, with two episodes of Hanasaku, I don’t think it will be heading in the same direction of failure. The pacing of the story and the drama is very good considering that it’s a coming of age type of story with many challenges for Ohana. Considering that the show has 26 episodes to work with, I think they can fit a lot of stuff with the overall story, which Angel Beats couldn’t do with 12 episodes.

  6. Mad Chemist permalink
    April 11, 2011 2:03 am

    Agreed about Nichijou. It’s not a bad show, but the things that make me laugh are infrequent and it’s definitely pushing the cute girls doing cute things premise more than it is the absurd humor. It’s very well animated, at least, and the things that do work are pretty funny, but… eh. Just not my cup of tea.

    Hanasaku looks like it could become the darkhorse of the season if the blogosphere is any indication. I didn’t have any expectations of it either and it’s actually quite good. I like the drama so far, the show looks gorgeous and I’m looking forward to see where the characterization will go from here. It’s definitely one of the most promising shows I’ve seen this season.

    • April 11, 2011 5:46 pm

      Nichijou will require another episode or two before I can fully decide if I like it or not – right now its just not doing much for me.

      Hanasaku Iroha is definitely an early favourite – very surprised by how much I enjoyed it, was fully expecting some pedestrian ‘nice’ little show that would be easily ignored; but the writing is just so wonderful its impossible not to get swept up in the show’s atmosphere.

  7. April 11, 2011 12:35 pm

    Haha I was hoping to read your take on the first Sket Dance episode here. Any chance of that in the near future?

    • April 11, 2011 5:47 pm

      Sket Dance will be in the 2nd post which I’m writing at the moment & hope to have finished tomorrow evening.

  8. April 12, 2011 6:05 am

    You have covered a lot compared to mine. I haven’t watch half of the show you mentioned in the list but from what I see:
    – X-Men was good, I’m happy with it and trying not to be so overly picky about it (like the BGM you mentioned),
    – Hanasaku Iroha is definitely one to watch out for. The story is solid

    • April 13, 2011 7:29 am

      I watch the 1st episode of nearly everything that comes out at the start of season out of habit – I’m only partway done with 1st impressions!

      Hanasaku Iroha seems to be an early favourite!

  9. Envy permalink
    April 13, 2011 5:00 am

    question are you going to put out a shiki review this week or are you going to wait for day first

    • April 13, 2011 7:25 am

      Waiting for Day. I’m not actually in the country this weekend (going to visit relatives in England), and I’m sick with the flu at the moment.

      Day is planning to catch up this weekend (all being well – we’re busy women!) so we’ll be back in business the following week.

  10. April 24, 2011 11:48 pm

    Sorry I’m late to this Cara, hope you’re feeling better btw! Out of these, Nichijou and HanaIro are the ones I’ll be following, though I usually avoid the moe/ cute girls doing moe/ cute things, haha, but the hilarity and absurdity of the one makes me overlook the often uninspiring artwork, and the gorgeous production of the other makes me not bother too much with the inconsistencies in storytelling/characterisation of the other, LOL… For now, of course… 😀

    • April 25, 2011 5:05 pm

      I’m much improved thanks petal!

      I’ve dropped Nichijou as of ep3 – just wasn’t doing anything for me unfortunately. HanaIro I’m still following but don’t really have particularly high expectations for it anymore (ep3 was a bit of a wake up call) – its still very watchable though.

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