Summer 2011 – First Impressions (No.6, Mawaru PenguinDrum & Mayo Chiki!)
Managed to wipe my phone last night so spent the majority of the evening trying to fix it…..so this is a bit late, thank god its the weekend! Today I watched two boys in a storm, a girl resurrect thanks to magical penguins and one of the least convincing reverse Traps ever…….or No.6, Mawaru PenguinDrum and Mayo Chiki!
I liked this a lot. Sometimes when approaching a sci-fi adventure series, the setting can overwhelm the characters and what you end up with is a very pretty show filled with vapid characters and a feeling of wasted potential *cough*Fractale*cough*, excuse me. Thankfully this is not the case with No.6 as it has chosen to keep the focus on the main characters first and foremost, and show the world as they interact with it – it’s really nice to be shown a world and what effect it has on the characters, rather than be constantly told what is going on. It was also a rather slow-paced opening episode, not really telling us an awful lot about the upcoming plotline and also seemed to take place at an earlier point than what the promo materials, OP & ED suggest Also since this is a manga adaptation I hope they haven’t wasted too much of their limited running time on things like Shion daydreaming in class and being utterly oblivious about his little girlfriend’s feelings; not that these didn’t add anything to the show, it’s just that I am very aware that No.6 only has 11 episodes to tell its story in – I don’t want another show that feels too big for noitaminA.
Now I suppose I’d better mention the thing that keeps popping up about this show – the BL vibes. They are definitely there, but I doubt very much that the show will make anything out of it and nor do I think that anyone should avoid the show because of them…….still to fangirls like myself, No.6’s two main characters are extremely easy to ship (and the adorable ED animation basically does our job for us). Still its easy enough to ignore if you wish – everything is very innocent given Shion’s naivety and Nezumi’s inexperience with kindness. So don’t be put off, I mean it’s possible to see BL in just about anything if you’re skilled enough! 😆
Bones are doing a solid job with the production as expected (although there is a touch of obvious CGI going on in some shots), and I just love the feeling of space that the show has. There is a light, airiness and focus on natural things like trees & wind and even hand-knitted jumpers, and their juxtaposition with the man-made objects like that Moon Drop building that seems to fight with the wind for dominance in the soundscape. The acting is also great, Shion is believable as a very intelligent youngster, who is also quite naive about the workings of the world; whereas Nezumi really comes across as suspicious and nervous as well as street-smart where Shion is book-smart.
Okay going on a bit too much, this is turning into a full length post…….I think I’m interested enough in No.6 to be seriously considering blogging it (health dependent).
Where do I even start with this series!? There was just so much to take in in this initial episode that repeat viewing is practically required (even then I know I am missing an entire layer of subtext), Ikuhara is most definitely back. To those of us who have seen, and loved, Revolutionary Girl Utena, the homages and same sense of style is easy to spot. This show couldn’t come from anyone else than Ikuhara – it’s as easy to see as the Shinbo stamp on a SHAFT show. We’re sent on a rollercoaster ride as the show swings between drama and comedy, the surreal and the fabulous – its dizzying, but at the same time effortless and an awful lot of fun. I won’t even attempt to try to decipher the symbolic motifs in the episode here, but the obvious ones are the apple, trains and the idea of predetermined fate…….which seem to point to Kenji Miyazawa’s Night on the Galactic Railroad (but since I haven’t read it yet I can’t comment on that much). Regardless, PenguinDrum looks like its going to be a show that will spark many, many discussions – I’m really looking forward to reading all the posts on it!
The main thing that really strikes you about PenguinDrum is its use of colour. No other show this season has quite the same sense of style – Uta-Pri may be shiny and very very colourful, but it’s used a very garish fashion, where PenguinDrum’s use of colour seems to be designed to draw your eye to details in the background. Take the sibling’s home – there is just so much to look at in that house, so many colours and little touches – you could stare at stills for hours and still find new things! The way mundane things are drawn so technicoloured strikes a sharp contrast with other shows that make the mundane just that – mundane. PenguinDrum’s backgrounds are probably the best of the season – even though they’re populated by cardboard cutouts! Oh, and I have to mention that transformation sequence – holy crap, so awesome; never before has walking down stairs been so brilliant!
Running out of space again……too much to talk about! I’ll just finish up by saying that this was a very strong opening episode, filled with great animation, excellent music, interesting characters and a truckload of potential. Definitely looking forward to the rest of this series.
And now onto something completely different – couldn’t keep the standard high for all three now could I? 😆 Now here’s the thing, Mayo Chiki is crap. I know it’s crap, it knows it’s crap, everyone knows it’s crap…….but I still enjoyed this episode quite a lot. In a similar manner to Hidan no Aria last season, I think I’ll be watching all of Mayo Chiki this season, because every now and then you need to watch something generic and crap with your brain turned off. Mindless entertainment, that’s what this is. There’s nothing new or original about this show – its got all the normal tropes present and accounted for; the imouto wake-up call, the walk-into-bathroom scene, the “whoops I tripped and accidentally half stripped & molested you” moment, the mistaken for gay moment and the fella with uncontrollable nosebleeds. However its the way these tropes are presented that’s fun – more fun that the show has any right being.
A large part of my enjoyment stemmed from the acting – Satoshi Hino is very easy to listen too as the main protagonist as he’s not shrill & irritating like Hiro Shimono tends to be in similar roles. Yuka Iguchi also manages to pull of a rather convincing deep throaty voice when playing Subaru the reverse trap butler, something I’d have never thought her capable of given her performance as Enri in Fractale and the title character in Index! Eri Kitamura kind of steals the show as Suzutsuki with her sadistic ojou-sama voice though.
Animation is decent, character designs generic, direction reasonable. Music is also on the generic side, but not ear-bleed inducing like similar shows. So Mayo Chiki is stupid and unoriginal, but it’s still fun so I’m watching it (until I get bored at least).