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Winter 2012: First Impressions (Another, The Daily Lives of High School Boys and Rinne no Lagrange)

January 11, 2012

Only a few more posts and I’ll have tried practically everything~!  Today we have some try-hard creepiness, an exciting look at the world of the teenage boy and a mecha show, with added pants……or Another, The Daily Lives of High School Boys and Rinne no Lagrange.

Another

I really wanted to like this – it was the show I was looking forward to most this season, as decent horror series are pretty scant on the ground.  Unfortunately this first episode just came across as trying way too hard to be creepy, which is unfortunate as the general premise does have potential to be unsettling.  My main issue is the acting and presentation – the show may as well be hitting me over the head proclaiming “they’re hiding something!” and “this is the creepy part!”, as it doesn’t seem to understand the fact that subtlety is the best option when crafting an unsettling atmosphere – cutting to shots of crows & broken dolls every now and then just doesn’t make up for the complete lack of tension in the dialogue.  The characters are boring and swing between mechanical acting & over-acting, with very little middle ground.  We aren’t really given a reason for why we should care about the main character, he may as well be a cardboard cutout for all the purpose he serves in this episode (yes I know it’s only the first episode, but that’s no excuse for giving him no determinable personality!).  Another just feels heavy-handed and uninspired – it’s going to take a lot of work to make this an effective horror series.

Things are vastly better on the production front.  While the character designs are fairly typical, it’s the background art and attention to detail that really shine in this series.  PA Works have really outdone themselves with the backgrounds – the worn, slightly decaying feel of the locations gives a lived-in feel to the setting; it isn’t the sparkling clean look of most anime, there is texture and personality in this world design.  Which makes it such a shame that the soundtrack seems determined to ruin any attempt to create an effective atmosphere.  The BGM is heavy-handed and way too concerned with hitting us over the head with those “creepy” musical cues – it just doesn’t work.  The OP is Ali-Project’s one song again – which would be fine if it worked with the visuals, but there isn’t really any attempt to make the two work together here.  The ED also doesn’t really fit, feeling more like a typical harem ED than a horror one.  Music is quite important in a horror series and I think Another has missed the boat on this front.

So I’m pretty disappointed with how Another has started out.  I’m hoping that it’s just teething problems as the premise does have potential and the animation is really beautiful – I’m giving it another few episodes.

The Daily Lives of High School Boys (Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou)

Quite a lot of the material in this episode had already been released as promo material, but it really stood up to a re-watch – I laughed just as much!  There was also some new stuff (including the requisite Gundam parody that all Sunrise shows must have), and it was all pretty damn good.  NichiBROS is definitely one of the best shows this season.  This kind of humour is my kind of thing though – there is a heavy Gintama influence (they even have Tomokazu Sugita on board!) and the writing is really sharp, but I wouldn’t imagine that it’s everyone’s taste…..humour is completely subjective after all.  Still I laughed out loud loads during this episode, so I’m massively looking forward to the rest of this show.

Animation is pretty simplistic, its serviceable & the reaction faces are good, but the writing and direction does most of the work in delivering the gags.  The OP feels quite typically shounen (which is fitting) and there’s some prodding of the fourth wall going on.  The ED was specific to the final skit with the book girl in the episode – I’d imagine it will change as the series goes on.  Voice acting is where the show really shines though – really top-notch cast with brilliant comedic timing.

I am definitely keeping this on – it’s my favourite of the new shows this season.

Rinne no Lagrange: Flower Declaration of Your Heart

Bit underwhelmed by this – it’s quite bland.  The main character seems to be Haruhi stuck on ‘genki’, as she has her own random club & spends most of the episode jumping about various clubs beating all their members at their own specialties all while being irritatingly perky.  That wouldn’t have been so bad if it wasn’t for the random fanservice – it just doesn’t add anything to the show.  Once we got out the giant robots I began to enjoy the episode a bit more – however it would be nice to know just why Miss main character is the only one that can pilot this alien mecha …….. it would be nice to know anything about the show actually.  Quite amused that the ‘villains’ of the episode were your generic bishounen squad to counter our goodie-goodie bishoujo lead characters……at least I think they’re the villains, motives aren’t exactly made clear.  Anyway, I think I need to watch another couple of episodes before I make up my mind on this series.

Animation is pretty decent – character designs are ok and I liked the mecha designs.  I particularly liked the animation used in the OP (although that Megumi Nakajima song made me think I should be watching Macross Frontier). Voice acting is decent – main girl is a touch too manically cheerful for my tastes though.

So a less than spectacular opening episode – nothing too offensively terrible, but nothing that made me too eager for the next episode.  Will give it another 2 episodes to impress me.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 12, 2012 5:04 am

    I thought Another hit everything just nicely as an introduction episode for a horrow show. I wasn’t exactly blown away but is impressed by the episode nonetheless. I guess I am already biased because of it’s genre. Then again each to his/her own.

    Thank goodness we shared the same thought for Danshiko and Rinne no Lagrange though

    • January 12, 2012 12:49 pm

      I think Shiki has spoiled me for horror anime – I just couldn’t stop myself from comparing the two. However Another just lack any subtlety in its presentation of the plot – half the fun of these things is figuring out stuff for yourself, I don’t like being battered over the head with musical cues telling me I should be creeped out/suspicious right now.

  2. January 13, 2012 10:59 pm

    I’m surprised you disliked Another, you made fair points, but overall I think the scenery: backgrounds, music, overall atmosphere were intense and ever so slightly creepy. Dialogues weren’t really going in that direction, but some of the character expressions (like the mad look the girl gave the protagonist when he mentioned seeing miss eye-patch, I thought she was going to yell USO DA!! and stuff) and the feeling of suspense really worked for me.

    I lol’d at NichiBROs, such a creative and smart way to name this show. For me it’s the show of the season aswell, so many great laughs.

    • January 14, 2012 7:24 pm

      I really wanted to like Another – it seemed like my kind of show. However everything felt forced and heavy-handed and I found myself getting annoyed. I’m probably being overly critical, but I just was not impressed.

      NichiBROS seems to be the fan nickname for the show – fitting, amusing and much shorter to type!

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