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