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Summer 2011 – First Impressions (Natsume Yuujinchou San, Yuru Yuri and Ikoku Meiro no Croisée)

July 6, 2011

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.

Yuru Yuri

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.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. July 6, 2011 2:07 pm

    Agreed with each and every sentence. I really can’t say anymore than you’ve already said here. Well done indeed.

  2. Kim permalink
    July 6, 2011 2:18 pm

    Hiroshi Kamiya is one of my favorite seiyuu but ONLY for the soft voice he uses in this series. He is talented enough that he has a great range but I don’t know I just want him to always go back to this voice. He also uses in Honey & Clover as Takemoto (the perfect narrator to bring you into the series).

    And yes I love Natsume Yuujinchou. It’s so calming, charming, and sweet. If it ends up being the only series I watch this summer, it will be enough.

    • July 6, 2011 11:18 pm

      I quite like Kamiya’s overblown voice – adored his Izaya voice, sounded like he had a ball with that role; but I also really love this Natsume voice – so soothing.

      It seems that once Natsume Yuujinchou gets to you, you’re hooked 😛

  3. July 6, 2011 3:40 pm

    I’m excited for the rest of Natsume Yuujinchou–such a nice series. (Admittedly, this first episode was a bit “by the numbers” to me, but it was nice to see all the characters again regardless.)

    I though Croisee was a fun little show. I’m hoping it will build up its characters bit by bit. (For example, I hope we’ll find out when and how Yune learned French, and why she wanted to go work at the grandpa’s metal crafts shop.) I thought the series of events between her and Claude was interesting, though. (And cute.)

    • July 6, 2011 11:21 pm

      First episode really was the bog standard by the numbers Natsume episode, but it was a good way to ease back into the show.

      Croisee will completely hinge on whether the characters develop some depth – if its just all about how cute Yune is and how the grampa is a huge weeaboo, then the show is doomed XD

  4. July 6, 2011 6:48 pm

    I haven’t watched Natsume Yuuchinjou’s first two seasons, but I can say that I love the direction the third one is going towards. It’s a nice place to start off I think as it doesn’t make allusions to the past seasons all that much.

    • July 6, 2011 11:09 pm

      Hmm. I watched the first episode of each preceding season, but never really got hooked and dropped it. Now I’m considering trying again with season 3.

    • July 6, 2011 11:22 pm

      You’re missing an awful lot of character development by jumping right into the third season, but it is episodic enough that you can do so if you choose.


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