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Winter 2015: First Impressions – Kami-sama Kiss 2, Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! and Yuri Kuma Arashi

January 6, 2015

winter anime smallRight, here we go, the first selection of new anime to greet 2015 – and thankfully we’re off to a pretty positive start!  So lets have a look at struggling shoujo deities, fabulous magical boys and a storm of lesbian bears – Kami-sama Kiss 2, Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! and Yuri Kuma Arashi.

Kami-sama Kiss 2

Getting started with the first of our many sequels this season and once again Kami-sama Kiss proves to be a very watchable shoujo series.  This opening episode wastes very little time reintroducing the characters and setting before getting right into a new plotline concerning an assembly of gods.  The whole thing was pretty snappy, firing out jokes and dialogue at a breakneck pace.  It was almost too fast if I’m honest, the episode never really paused for breath and ended up feeling a bit jittery as a result.  Still at least we’ve got the set-up all out of the way so the show can move straight into its first plot arc.

The production hasn’t changed much from season one, it is just as consistent and serviceable.  The new OP is really nicely done though – liked that a lot.  So business as usual for Kami-sama Kiss – I do like these supernatural themed series.

Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! (Handsome High School Earth Defense Club Love!)

Initial reaction upon finishing this episode was “Best show of the season!!” it was just that much fun.  Bouei-bu is mental, absolutely mental, but is all the more entertaining for that mentalness.  It embraces and takes the piss out of all the usual mahou-shoujo and bishounen show tropes, mixing them together into this work of genius filled with pink wombats, long meaningful conversations about udon ingredients, transformation sequences initiated by the words “Love Making!” and boys making up terrible magical attack names with an impressive lack of imagination.

The production is decent, but clearly isn’t drowning in budget – they do make the most out of things and the mahou-shounen transformation sequences and subsequent epic battle are both tons of fun to watch.  The cast have lots of energy which makes the cheesy speeches all the more giggle inducing.

Bouei-bu! is bright, hyperactive and just plain entertaining – I loved it.

Yuri Kuma Arashi (Lily Bear Storm)

So Ikuhara’s latest offering then.  Well it sure had a lot of his hallmarks – elaborate staircases, ritualistic otherworldly sequences, symbolism, nudity, recurring phrases…….but for it having all the hallmarks somehow Yuri Kuma Arashi fell a bit flat for me.  In this first episode there was no real indication of what the under-running theme is going to be for the show, beyond yuri fanservice and cute bears.  I didn’t get a sense for what idea this show is grounded in – Penguindrum had the idea of challenging fate, Utena was a coming-of-age story and both had some hint of that right from the start.  Yuri Kuma Arashi’s first episode only really gave us what the title indicated – lesbians, bears and something about an Invisible Storm.

Production isn’t as strong as I’d hoped either with some rather off-model looking characters and a lot of static scenes.  The art design is beautiful though, with some wonderful, stylised backgrounds – although it does all remind me a bit of SHAFT.  In fact quite a lot of Yuri Kuma Arashi feels like Ikuhara spliced with SHAFT simply for the amount of fanservice and stylised backgrounds.

I’m definitely going to continue watching Lesbian Bear Storm because there is always some value to be gleamed from the layers Ikuhara puts into his shows.  However if I’m completely honest I don’t think I’d keep this show on if it was any other director – it is simply has too many things I don’t normally like.

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