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First Impressions: Winter 2014 – Silver Spoon S2, Hozuki no Reitetsu & Magical Warfare

January 11, 2014

winter anime smallStill no where near caught up – why so many shows!?  Up next is Silver Spoon S2, Hozuki no Reitetsu and Magical Warfare.

Silver Spoon S2 (Gin no Saji 2)

Yay more Silver Spoon!  This first episode picks up were the previous season left off, so it is business as usual.  The brief recap was just following Hachiken through his usual daily routine, and that was more than enough to get fully back up to speed with the show and its agricultural school setting.  And the food porn is back – always a good thing.

I didn’t see any major difference in production values or direction style with this first episode – basically it is the same old Silver Spoon, and that is fine by me.  A definite keeper.

Hozuki no Reitetsu

Now this was something a bit interesting and different.  Essentially it is a s’life show following a extremely competent middle manager in a massive government department….except the manager is an actual demon and the government department is literally Hell.  I really enjoyed it because Hozuki no Reitetsu is exceptionally well written.  The dialogue is mostly small talk which flows like a proper conversation, so the characters have actual depth to them.  Like we now know that even though Hozuki gripes about his job, he’s very good at it and is a boss anyone would be lucky to have, and in his spare time he likes to grow award-winning goldfish plants, likes cute animals & documentaries and desperately wants to go on vacation to Australia.

This isn’t a gag show, but is peppered with jokes that actually fit with the flow of the conversation and subject matter – some of it is lost in translation since this is very much about putting a spin on the traditional Japanese interpretation of Hell, but overall the comedy hit with me.  In fact the vast majority of the show appealed to me, from the interesting artstyle with its parchment backgrounds to the brilliant OP and grounded voice acting.

Probably isn’t going to be for everyone since it isn’t a laugh out loud comedy, and there is a lot of very specific references to Japanese mythology that assumes a certain familiarity with the subject material (this episode it was the legend of Momotaro), but the writing is of an exceptionally high standard and the direction & art is creative.  I really liked it – definitely keeping on.

Magical Warfare (Mahou Sensou)

Somehow this was even worse than I thought it was going to be – and that is something of an achievement.  This is quite possibly one of the laziest first episodes I’ve seen in quite a while.  There was absolutely no flow to the story, things just seemed to happen and it felt like there was some sort of generic checklist going on, like they needed all these things to be pointed out so just fired them in with little to no explanation or reasoning.  This is the kind of writing standard I’d expect from a teenager who’s watched way too much Index & Shana the night before.

I was ready to bail when the brocon girl fell on top of bland lead male and hello accidental kiss (also how was that his first kiss when he clearly has a girlfriend?), but things got progressively worse from there.  Apparently magic is as contagious as the common cold in this world, because suddenly not only does the bland lead male have hither-to unknown magical powers (the magical power to DODGE), but so does his girlfriend (the magical power to make her boobs massive!) and his friend who was randomly passing by (ooh flaming fist!).  The running narration that the brocon girl keeps up with how this world works is just laughably bad and makes zero sense – it’s like they were making this shit up as they went along!

Production isn’t much better.  Clearly Madhouse couldn’t be bothered giving much of a budget to this series – that or all the money was spent on the flashy magical effect and the voice cast (who all sound bored as fuck – but hey it is a pay check).  It is somewhat amazing how this turned out to be so bad – it had all the elements to be passable entertainment, but just turned into a juvenile mess.  Avoid.

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