I was pretty annoyed with this season of Kakumeiki Valvrave until episode 21. It was as lousy as ever, but the last few episodes had also been sort of boring. That's a really bad combination, but I'm pleased to say episode 21 brought back the good kind of Valvrave lousiness: Suffering and stupidity. [P.S. Spoilers herein abound.]» Read the rest of this entry «
If you've been following me on the Twitter, then you've probably figured out that I like Golden Time more than my last entry about it might suggest. Potentially, this is attributable to the fact that the anime has now advanced beyond what I've read of the manga and original light novel.» Read the rest of this entry «
As you might expect, THE iDOLM@STER TV anime is a bit different if you're already familiar with the characters, their songs, and the dances. The first time I watched the series, I merely had a general understanding of the franchise at best, with most of what I knew coming from (once again) the fan art or from criticisms I had heard of the "apocryphal" Xenoglossia series from years back. I'm still largely ignorant of the gameplay, but I've at least been exposed to the music, more of the fandom, and Haruhi knows how many hours of all-singing, all-dancing videos on YouTube and NicoVideo. I've also played enough Shiny Festa to know I'm pretty terrible at it.» Read the rest of this entry «
The best part about having a $2400 laptop suffer a hardware failure while you're away from home is relying on dubious bittorrent clients on your phone to stay up to date with currently airing anime. Turns out Golden Time was worth it this week, though.
As sequels go, IS Infinite Stratos 2 plays it pretty safe, offering mostly filler around a fairly uninteresting plot. It knows its bread and butter involves inspiring (somewhat facetious) arguments about the relative merits of the bevy of girls surrounding Potato-kun as he fails again and again to notice his harem's interest in him.» Read the rest of this entry «
The Hanasaku Iroha movie, Home Sweet Home is very pleasant, but I'm not sure it really feels like a movie. It's not very long (although it doesn't feel short) and it mates so well with the episodes from the series that it feels more like an OVA than a theatrical production simply because it is not especially grandiose. (Rebuild of Evangelion, this is not.)
Nevertheless, it is a very enjoyable watch if you liked the Hanasaku Iroha anime series. The visuals look better than ever and the characters are endearing as always. I started the movie knowing basically nothing about the plot or its themes, having somehow missed all the trailers and any hype all y'all might have drummed up for it. I was pleasantly surprised to see Ohana's deadbeat mom, Satsuki, taking such a prominent role. Confirming what I already knew from the series, she was a pretty great teenage girl, but is still a terrible mother, however you look at it.
Family and motherhood are important themes in this movie, but the execution can be hit-or-miss depending on how you feel about children. It's no secret that I generally loathe anime children, particularly when they make trouble for other people. (Let's face it, that basically all anime children ever do.) For that reason, I felt the sub-plot about Nako acting as a stand-in mom to her younger siblings in place of their frequently absent actual mother was a bit too melodramatic. This was time that could have been better used for more scenes concerning Tomoe's corrosive envy of Minko's flawless skin.
Speaking of mothers, I never though I'd say this, but Satsuki's mother (Ohana's grandmother) slaps Satsuki a bit too much in this movie. I think she can get away with it as a stuffy old grandmother dispensing old fashioned discipline, but in the flashbacks where a much younger Sui is smacking around the rebellious teenage Satsuki, she just comes across as abusive. If it was supposed to make me sympathize with Satsuki and wish she'd get knocked up just to spite the only authority figure in her life, I guess it worked.
P.A. Works succeeds with Home Sweet Home for the same reason it succeeded with the Hanasaku Iroha series and more recently with Tari Tari. These are nice places and interesting people to be around—even the freakish weirdos. Thankfully, Kou had only the most minor of bits in the movie. He was always the Hanasaku Iroha Achilles' heel in my opinion. The kid's dead weight. I was pretty glad to see the rest of the movie's cast again, though. We should do this again some time.
I was looking forward to Golden Time because I felt both the manga and the original light novels successfully combined the two components I claim critical to a romantic comedy's success: Medium-Wackiness and Emotional Resonance. The Golden Time anime does not deviate from the source material, but the way it covers some significant events is haphazard and rushed.
From a narrative standpoint, watching Golden Time is sort of like hearing a synopsis from a reader who only skimmed the books. All the key points are there, but getting them from this type of storytelling isn't conducive to understanding how they relate. The viewer is less likely to appreciate the moments themselves.
The biggest problem so far is episode four was clearly rushed. A lot of important events occur shortly after Banri's and Kouko's night in the woods, but episode four of the anime runs through them all without conveying their gravity. Specifically, the confrontation with Chinami, the subsequent encounter with Nana, Kouko taking the stage, and the departure from the club are all important events that the anime basically glosses over, skipping to the morning after. (Significantly, the anime also entirely omits the binge drinking that occurs throughout those events.) I was also dissatisfied with how the anime covered Kouko's struggle at Banri's club and with how it handled Banri's unexpected journey.
Before the Golden Time anime started, quite a few people expressed their reservations after learning Kon Chiaki is at the helm. (She's the director perhaps best known for "ruining" the Nodame Cantabile sequels.) Through four episodes, I have to grudgingly admit that these pessimists were right.
Despite all the criticism J.C. Staff attracts these days, I still consider it a very capable studio when it plays to its strengths. Emotional resonance is its bread and butter. Unfortunately, compared to its deft execution in other adaptations such as Toradora! and Honey & Clover, Golden Time is an underachiever. Maybe episode four was just a aberrant one-off, but it was ham-fisted even compared to the Nodame Cantabile sequels Kon Chiaki herself directed, let alone compared to the brilliant first season. One-off or not, it's troubling that such important parts of Golden Time didn't get better treatment.
Nevertheless, despite the flaws in how Golden Time is presented, I do still like the show. I think this is a testament to the strength of the original source material. It's a real shame the anime isn't taking a bit more care with how it covers the events, because it has the potential to be very good. It seems merely slowing down a bit would suffice, Kon Chiaki notwithstanding. I suspect it's likely the rush is inspired by desires to hit a milestone by the end of the season, but this makes it more difficult to simply enjoy the ride.
I'm watching fewer shows autumn 2013 than I usually do. I suppose on average it's still about one episode each night, but with less time watching anime and less attention devoted to The Twitter, I do have noticably more time to pursue other interests—to include updating an anime blog that's nearly in its 13th year.
KILL la KILL was a lock. By now, everyone should know about Studio Trigger's Gainax pedigree. Curiously, I've read some complaints from viewers who feel KILL la KILL tries too hard. Odd, trying too hard was exactly what I wanted from the show. Why would you want anything else when the premise is so ridiculous? Why would you expect anything else when Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt are so closely associated with the talent involved?
In addition to the crazy setup and ridiculous fights, I'm also impressed by two things: First, the ostensible male lead is an overly amorous teacher who might not be joking about ensuring Ryuuko's zero-gravity underboob doesn't go to waste. Second, Koshimizu Ami is phenomonal as our extremely crass heroine. Hers is the kind of work that compares nicely with Kawasumi Ayako's tough-girl voice and Noto's DARK MAMIKO persona. Also, it all but guarantees we'll see a solid assortment of seiyuu-based parody images. Cure Melody is a lock, but I'm hoping someone takes the time to give us a Claes. Pixiv Army, make it happen.
Golden Time doesn't quite have the production values I was hoping for, but it should be pretty good overall if it stays true to the light novels and manga. This is not to say that Golden Time is a masterpiece of storytelling or the new standard of romance, but it contains what I feel to be the right ratio of wackiness and emotional resonance to make me care about the erstwhile couple. Of particular note, all the characters involved are college students, so they're freed from usual bullshit that constrains middle school-aged and high school-aged anime characters in would-be romantic comedies. Also, Horie Yui has got her trademark sweetness turned up high as Kaga Kouko.
In response to some of the early reactions I saw after the first episode aired, I wouldn't exactly describe Golden Time as a harem comedy, although there are undeniable harem elements in the show. It's very much about our nutjob heroine who is Cocoa Puffs and Tada "No Flame Haze" Banri. Yes, I've made both those jokes before already. What of it?
Naturally, I'm still watching DokiDoki! Precure and Meitantei Conan. I'm not sure I can name another Pretty Cure episode that was as straightforward about providing lessons to children as episode 35 was. Still, it was nicely done. I found it amusing that cavities don't exist where Cure Sword comes from. The final 13 or so episodes of DokiDoki! will hopefully finish on a strong note. Detective Conan finished up summer 2013 with back-to-back episodes guest starring Heiji and Kazuha. Autumn 2013 begins with four more straight episodes of wacky Osaka detective times, so this should be a pretty good cour.
IS Infinite Stratos 2 is so bad, but I still look forward to each new episode. It's an effective formula, even if Potato-kun is frustratingly dense in basically all aspects of his life and the girls inexplicably resolute in their obsession with him. All the girls are as charismatic as they were in the first season, although I find myself increasingly favoring the comically straightforward Laura over even the turbodere Cecilia Alcott now that they've canonically thrown out basically everything that formerly made Charles the best girl.
If Infinite Stratos is low-level stupidity, Kakumeiki Valvrave is high-level idiocy. The second cour picks up right where the first 12 episodes left off, with no apparent change one way or the other resulting from the three-month break. The show makes no more sense than it ever did and is still amusing in a preposterous sort of way, but I think it's about time to start killing off some of the more irritating and/or useless characters, even if they are heads of state.
I'm not capping myself at six shows; I'm just undecided as to what else I should watch. Based on popular opinion, it appears Kyousogiga or whatever it's called is the clear leader among potential candidates, even though I have absolutely no idea what it's about. I heard that it has Kugimiya Rie though. For various reasons, I'm also keeping my eye on Coppelion, Galilei Donna - Storia di tre sorelle a caccia di un mistero, Yuusha ni Narenakatta Ore wa Shibushibu Shuushoku wo Ketsui Shimashita, and Strike the Blood. However, I'm only curious about Strike the Blood because I want to see if Silver Link can continue to whip out the sort of fight scenes it impressed with last season during Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya.