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Autumn 2011: First Impressions (Fate/Zero, Bakuman. S2 & Hunter x Hunter)

October 3, 2011

Okay new season is go, time for first impressions!  I really love writing these posts (which is why I’m doing them despite the inevitable spike in pain writing them is going to cause) because there’s nothing more fun than getting to rant/fangirl and/or be indifferent/elitist about new shows.

To kick things off I’m starting with Fate/Zero, Bakuman. S2 and Hunter x Hunter (2011).

Fate/Zero

So the first episode of Fate/Zero ended up being a double bill…….and it really didn’t need to be.  So much of the episode was taken up by people monologing that I really started to zone out midway though.  Type Moon shows are generally full of dialogue, so I was expecting big long conversations, but I wasn’t expecting said conversations to be so bloody bland!  I wouldn’t have minded so much if the info dumps had have been done in an interesting way, but in this episode was it generally just men talking at each other in dark rooms while the camera stays in one place (and in one absolutely hilarious scene, two men pace in circles around a third for what felt like 10mins just talking at him – it went on forever!).  We finally saw a wee bit of action at the very end when the Masters finally started summoning their Servants, so I hope that this is all the exposition dumping done with now.  I’m probably being a bit harsh, but for an opening episode this just wasn’t very interesting for the vast majority of the time.

The animation also isn’t as wonderful as I was expecting.  The backgrounds are glorious, but the direction is pretty bland much of the time & too many of the characters looks alike (I really have no idea who half the men are right now, despite the fact their names were mentioned over and over again).  I’m still pretty optimistic that the animation will pick up once we get some actual action though, as the summoning at the end was nicely done.  The Kajiura score is good, but probably not her best work & the voice acting was decent enough (although everyone sort of sounds alike when they’re droning on and on about stuff I wasn’t paying attention to).

I’m definitely keeping Fate/Zero on, I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece when I went into the show.  As long as there is some eye candy and awesome action I’ll be happy, and it’s almost guaranteed that I’ll get at least that & hopefully more.

Bakuman. S2

New season of Bakuman then.  It’s no real secret that the 1st season of the anime pissed me off beyond belief with its insistence on pushing the shitty romance aspect, so I’ve been somewhat dreading this second season since I know the upcoming material really isn’t the strongest in the series.  Still this opening episode was actually pretty damn good – I am pleasantly surprised (although don’t harbour any hopes that it can maintain this standard).  The pacing was snappy, lots of things were covered, new characters introduced and the writing was good (really nailed how irritating Miura is anyway).  However next episode brings back Azuki so I’m fairly certain I’ll be back to banging my head off the desk in frustration.

On the animation front not much has changed – it’s still pretty derpy, but the direction seems a bit sharper.  We got a few new characters – Daisuke Kirii pretty much nailed Miura’s hyperactive annoyingness and I barely recognised Masakazu Morita voicing the weird Hiramaru!  New OP isn’t as offensively awful as the 1st season’s, but it’s still  as bland as cardboard & not the most inspiring way to start an episode, ED is pretty good though.

So I was going to watch this anyway given my insistence on watching the sequels for any show I’ve finished the original for, but first episode has me feeling a bit more optimistic that they’re going to sort out the pacing a bit this season – fingers crossed, I really do like the Bakuman manga after all!

Hunter x Hunter (2011)

I’m still slightly concerned about this remake, but not nearly as apprehensive as I was originally.  This first episode was a lot of fun, even though it skimmed over a lot of material important to Gon’s character development (fairly sure they’ll put some of the things they left out in at a later stage).  At this point it all feels very, very shounen – the happy-go-lucky child heading off on an adventure to become the worlds greatest so-and-so, is about as traditional as you get so I can see why some people are less than enthusiastic about this initial episode.  However Hunter x Hunter is one of those shows that lulls you into a false sense of security in its introductory episodes – this series is not as lighthearted as it would have you imagine, and this will become very apparent once the Hunter Exam arc starts in earnest.  I’m a bit worried about how this remake is being pitched at a pretty young demographic – I really hope they don’t gloss over the darker aspects of the series (it can get very disturbing at times), but so far Madhouse seem to know what they’re doing so I’m staying optimistic.

The animation has had an obvious modernisation to bring it up to code, but the character designs remain as simple as ever  and aren’t going to win any awards for coolness or style.  The new voice cast I’m having a bit of trouble getting used to though – FujiKei is fine as Leorio, but Miyuki Sawashiro is being a wee bit too feminine for Kurapika & I’m not really liking Gon’s new seiyuu at all – way too squeaky & loud.  I’m really liking the new soundtrack – it’s really fun & full of that adventure feel.  The OP is really retro feeling and fun, kind of puts me in mind of the Dragonball OPs, but I was not prepared for the ED – same band as did the Kaiji OP & it’s really jarring (and what’s with the animation – WTF Hisoka!?).

Overall I’m really looking forward to following this – it will be interesting to see what further changes Madhouse make, but mainly I’m just excited to be getting more Hunter x Hunter anime!

15 Comments leave one →
  1. October 3, 2011 9:35 pm

    None of these were shows I was especially looking forward to, but I was pleasantly surprised by all three. Fate/Zero I wasn’t even sure I could follow, since I never paid any mind to the franchise before. Bakuman2 has the bad fortune of following the first season, which was disappointing for reasons you aptly point out. HxH I knew nothing about; I liked the scenes on the boat, so I’ll probably check out future episodes.

    Of the three, my favorite part came in HxH, when the ED kicked in. It was really funny listening to Fear and Loathing, both for the incongruity between Kaiji and HxH (at least so far), and for the aptness of the (somewhat silly) screaming intensity, it certainly highlights a youthful, albeit unfocussed, energy.

    • October 4, 2011 1:09 pm

      Being new to Fate did you find the 1st episode confusing? I’m familiar with the general premise from watching F/SN, but even to me the explanations in F/Z seemed convoluted and hard to follow (although that may be because I started zoning out).

      HxH I really recommend – its one of my all time favourite shounen series because it is so well done – can’t wait to get into the first big arc, that’s when the show starts to show it’s true colours.

      • October 4, 2011 5:11 pm

        No, I was afraid I would, but I got the gist of it. I’m not sure I understand exactly who the characters are, since there were a lot of characters that might not appear in future episodes, but I got the idea that there are mages, that some small number of them are assembling for a fight, and that they will be using conjured heroes to assist them. That’s a HELL of a lot more than I got out of the first episode of Horizon.

        Yeah, it is obviously early still for HxH, so I’ll continue watching.

        • October 4, 2011 6:51 pm

          Ah that’s good, I got about the same out of the first episode – will take a lot longer to get the characters straight in my head though.

          Horizon……..oh I’m going to have so much fun bitching about that mess later~!

  2. October 4, 2011 2:23 am

    Fate Zero could have done its intro as a regular length episode since the first 15 minutes were garbage. It eventually showed strengths in its diverse character motivations and weighty ideas, and the promise kickass fights, so I hope the dialogue won’t bog the series down like in this episode.

    • October 4, 2011 1:11 pm

      I’m still optimistic about Fate/Zero, but yeah, it really could have done with trimming the boring talking in the 1st episode. With a cast full of adults with various reasons for doing what they’re doing, it should be an interesting series (with awesome action!) pity the 1st episode didn’t really hype me up the way it should have.

  3. October 4, 2011 6:00 am

    Well, there was certainly plenty of dialogue in Fate/Zero’s first episode, but I thought it put the various characters into some rather interesting situations, where they were all making some pretty significant decisions.
    I also like that we’ve got adults involved in this story, rather than high schoolers as is usually the case. There’s definitely a more serious tone to this one than is typical of the genre, though I should wait ’til the action starts before I decide how I feel about it all.

    • October 4, 2011 1:14 pm

      Fate/Zero does have plenty of potential to be great – I just wasn’t impressed by it’s first episode; it could have been handled in a more interesting & exciting way – lots of monologing and pacing don’t really excite me in anime, that’s fine in novels but in an anime format it needs to make use of the medium.

      Hopefully when the action kicks in things will improve – I’m still looking forward to the show.

  4. October 4, 2011 9:09 am

    Only saw Hunter x hunter! I never saw much of the first anime, but I actually had fun with this series cool character designs! I swear that guy in the blue suit = Vash from Trigun xD

    • October 4, 2011 1:15 pm

      Hahaha! Leorio does look a bit like Vash – can’t unsee now!

    • October 4, 2011 5:14 pm

      I thought he seemed familiar, and I was guessing someone from FMA, but now that you mention it, he does look like Vash!

  5. October 5, 2011 5:26 am

    I liked the overall adventure aesthetic of HunterxHunter. It won’t win any awards whatsoever, but it had me grinning the whole time. I mean hell, it’s old fashioned shounen from before gratuitous angst was the “in” thing, and it shows. What’s not to like about that?

    As for Fate/Zero, I felt that the infodump wasn’t terrible in how it was implemented, but much of the information felt rather superfluous. I mean if they paced things out like in the visual novels, information would come when it’s required, not all at the very beginning where you’re likely to forget it by the third episode. Still, not a bad start, and it certainly had me hooked at the end.

    • October 5, 2011 9:07 pm

      The feel of the 1st HxH ep really was old school adventure shounen – lots of fun…….it doesn’t stay quite that upbeat though!

      With Fate/Zero, maybe they’re getting the info dump out of the way early so the rest of the show will be kickass action!?

  6. October 16, 2011 3:24 pm

    It might have made it seem slow to some viewers but I think it really fleshed out the characters and the Hunter world. While I still found it weird in some places like the quiz scene I really liked it during the Kiriko chase.

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