Summer 2011 – First Impressions (Natsume Yuujinchou San, Yuru Yuri and Ikoku Meiro no Croisée)
Continuing on with the first impressions then, today we have a ayakashi cat, four loli’s in a room and a tiny Japanese girl in France……or Natsume Yuujinchou San, Yuru Yuri and Ikoku Meiro no Croisée.
Natsume Yuujinchou San
I have lots of love for Natsume Yuujinchou, it’s just a series that always puts me at ease. Normally I’m bored stupid by this kind of atmospheric episodic series, but there is just something about Natsume Yuujinchou that holds my attention – it’s almost therapeutic! There are lots of repeating themes in the show so you’d think I’d be bored by now considering this is the third season, but no – I still love this show to bits. They chose a standalone episodic story to start off the new season, reminding us of all that Natsume and Nyanko-sensei have gone through together, and once again highlighting the central theme of loneliness and exclusion that pops up time and again. It was the perfect way to get re-acquainted with the characters and I came out of the episode with that familiar warm, fuzzy glow that this series seems to invoke in me.
The animation has dramatically improved since the first season, Brains Base are clearly putting quite a bit of budget and care into this latest series. Although I think they could have made a bit more effort with the OP titles – they’re pretty dull. I quite liked the OP & ED music though. The cast is back, its nice to hear Hiroshi Kamiya using this lighter voice after over exposure to his mad cackling in comedies (not that I dislike that, it’s just nice to hear a different inflection sometimes). Kazuhiko Inoue is always fantastic as Nyanoko-sensei, its great to have him back.
I am of course watching this series. I am up to date with the manga, so it will be interesting to see how they deal with some of the upcoming arcs.
I am just not cut out for watching these things any more – I think my tolerance for moe-crap has hit an all time low. Once upon a time I used to be quite optimistic about this kind of show, giving them a few episodes at least to win me over and occasionally chuckling at the cute girls doing cute things. Now though……not so much. Midway through this episode I completely zoned out – and I mean completely. Five minutes of my life vanished into thin air and when I came back to myself and started paying attention to the show again, I realised that I had missed nothing. Nothing had changed on the screen – the four girls where still sitting in that room talking about random crap, and at that point I decided I definitely would not be watching this series. That’s not to say that Yuru Yuri is utter rubbish, it is watchable and has a certain amount of charm, but its bringing absolutely nothing new to the table – you’ve seen this show last season in the form of A-Channel, and before that it was called K-ON! or Lucky Star. I just can’t see this series being sustainable given it was already repeating jokes by the end of the first episode.
Production values are a bit meh. The girls are practically identical bar their hair & eye colour, the school uniform design is kind of baffling (where do the pleats in the skirt/tunic thing stop!?) and there are three settings – home, classroom & clubroom…….with absolutely nothing else. The OP song had me twitching in annoyance, the ED is nearly identical and the voices are once again the same standard haremette voices you’ve heard a million times before.
I am aware I’m ranting a bit here, Yuru Yuri probably doesn’t really deserve this because it is completely harmless and pretty watchable with some fun scenes, but I’m really just tired of this genre of show – give me something of substance please!
Iroku Meiro no Croisée
Throughout this episode this song was playing on repeat in my head – seriously. This series seems to have gotten so caught up in making Yune (the Tiny Japanese Girl in question) as cute as humanly possible – seriously this loli is absolutely adorable; a perfectly formed doll, that they’ve neglected to give her a personality. And that’s where I start having issues. Yune doesn’t seem to have any purpose beyond being cute, and her classic oriental styling adds a pretty contrast to the gorgeous 19th century Paris backgrounds. Beyond this I don’t really get what the point of this series is. The language barrier has been done away with immediately (everyone speaks Japanese……or French, its hard to tell) so all that’s left is the culture clash, although Yune is so eager to please her new ‘masters’ that its hard to see what they’ll do with that.
The production budget seems to have been poured into making the setting and Yune look as beautiful as possible – the other character designs, actual animation and direction are rather dull in comparison. I do applaud them for getting a real French person to do the title cards though. Both the OP & ED are pretty forgettable, although the ED does have adorable animation which save it a bit.
I will of course give the show another two episodes to see what they’re going to do with the show, but if it doesn’t develop some depth I won’t stick about – cuteness and pretty backgrounds aren’t enough to make me stick around.