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Autumn 2014: First Impressions – Garo: Honoo no Kokuin, Yowamushi Pedal Grande Road and Donten ni Warau

October 7, 2014

autumnanimeWow, what is this sorcery – more things I actually liked? Maybe the season is finally picking up!  Next up is sex & demon-slaying, hot-blooded cycling and colour coordinated bishie brothers……Garo: Honoo no Kokuin, Yowamushi Pedal 2: Grande Road and Donten ni Warau.

Garo: Honoo no Kokuin (The Carved Seal of Flames)

Well that sure was an attention grabbing opening episode!  Sex, violence, conspiracies and some great animation – Garo’s first episode had it all and promises a lot more to come.  From the JAM Project OP (best OP of the season so far, loved the animation!) through to the action set-piece with Leon taking down a massive Horror, via scenes of a woman giving birth while being burnt at the stake and a man being quartered – Garo isn’t pulling its punches on the violence, and that is a wonderful thing.  I enjoyed the whole structure of this episode, half the story is told by a knight lounging about naked in bed with a prostitute.  Clearly he’s only giving a narrow take on the whole story, but it’s left up to us to pull the true details from the scenes we’re shown in between – we’re not being spoonfed, nor it is needlessly obtuse on the details, we’re getting just the right amount of information about Garo’s world.  It’s pretty cool!

The aesthetic I’m getting from the show is kind of Game of Thrones shoved through an anime filter with some Karas fired in (that’s mainly due to the CG armour though).  The production is pretty good, I think more of MAPPA’s budget has gone into Bahamut, but Garo doesn’t look at all cheap.  I really do like the character designs and the armour while obviously CG animated, is pretty cool looking.  I will say I am utterly clueless about the Tokusatsu drama that this is based on, so I couldn’t tell you how many liberties are being taken with the source material.  I’m not really interested in looking at the live-action stuff either, I much prefer animation, but based only on this first episode I think it is pretty good show and I’m looking forward to more.

Yowamushi Pedal 2: Grande Road

Yay! YowaPeda is back~!  This episode basically picks up exactly where the previous season ended – well it kind of needed to since S1 ended in a really unnatural place halfway through a race.  This episode was a touch slow and all over the place though as a result.  It’s trying to reintroduce the characters while also having to pay attention to events in the race and just ends up feeling oddly off kilter.  Not to say I didn’t enjoy it, I did, but it wasn’t as well paced as I’d expect from YowaPeda…….and we’re still not finished this stage of race!

New OP & ED suggests another rival team will be joining the main cast, which is to be expected.  Not massively keen on the songs, but they may grow on me.  Basically it’s more YowaPeda, if you watched the first season you’ll be watching this one – I’m pleased to have the series back.

Donten ni Warau (Laughing Under the Clouds)

Well this wasn’t really the best start – as an introductory episode it hardly gets you excited for more of the show.  I am super weak to these kinds of supernatural bishie shows, but Donten ni Warau is struggling to keep even my highly biased attention…..not a good sign.  I’d have liked a bit more information on the role the three brothers are playing as ferrymen to a high security prison in the middle of a lake, but instead we’re mostly given uninspired s’life antics as the brothers muck about and catch a few escaped convicts in between.  All I’ve really taken from the episode is that the eldest brother is flippant but very strong, the middle child has an inferiority complex and the youngest is childishly upbeat has an irritating verbal tic.  To say I’m not bursting with enthusiasm is an understatement.

Still, I do like the overall look of the show (here we go with my shallowness again), the character designs and Meiji era setting both really appeal to me and I do like the voice cast as well.  As such I’m going to give Donten ni Warau another few episodes – if it still fails to impress me with its storytelling chops I might give the manga a look instead.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. A Day Without Me permalink
    October 8, 2014 11:52 am

    Sheesh, if Donten no Warau wasn’t engaging for you, and it wasn’t engaging for me, and we’re both folks who like this sort of show, who the hell is even gonna watch it??

    • October 8, 2014 12:45 pm

      Oh good it wasn’t just me then – was thinking I may just be on a downer from watching so many mediocre shows! Have no clue how the managed to make this show so dull, but something has gone badly wrong if their core demographic isn’t feeling it.

  2. October 8, 2014 1:59 pm

    Donten’s problem is that it wants to be “fun” for anime fans in addition to being this story about brothers running a prison. The problem is that while stuff like Kill la Kill or Resonance use the “anime-isms” as background to what’s really going on, Donten puts em front and center to the point its got tonal issues

    Also, the action sucks.

    • October 8, 2014 9:33 pm

      Room for a lot improvement all round. It is only my personal bias towards this genre of show that will even get it a second chance.

  3. October 9, 2014 11:38 am

    I’m giving Donten ni Warau the benefit of the doubt – mostly for shallow reasons, but I am curious about what’s going on with that creepy lake prison. Definitely has more potential to get better than most of the shows I’ve dropped.

    Yowamushi Pedal’s return was just amazing. There probably were pacing issues as you mentioned, but I was too busy enjoying Midousuji’s villainry and getting excited over the imminent Day 2 results to notice any flaws. 😛

    Garo surprisingly didn’t do much for me – it’s certainly different in terms of visuals and setting, but despite that it struggled to hold my attention for whatever reason. Can’t say I was a huge fan of the CG armour, either.

    • October 10, 2014 5:49 pm

      Donten ni Warau’s setting and character design appeals to me, but the show really needs to develop some sort of identity ASAP – it’s very vanilla right now.

      YowaPeda is brilliant, I love the characters to bits – but yeah I couldn’t not notice how messy this episode was. Pretty inevitable given where S1 ended though.

      I loved Garo’s first episode – but it is all stuff that I like anyway so I’m pretty biased.


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