This is a little earlier than I typically like to post initial impressions for a new season, since I consider it premature to make assumptions about shows after only a couple of episodes. However, I'm already more or less familiar with most of the shows I'm following this season because they are either continuations or adaptations of things I've read. Only Vividred Operation and Love Live! School Idol Project remain unknowns at this point.(more…)
Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga shuraba Sugiru (My Girlfriend and Childhood Friend Fight Too Much) seems to be doing all right so far in a fairly tough category: The Harem Comedy. I find most fans' tolerance for harem comedies declines with each one they watch. Assuming they ever enjoyed them, enthusiasm quickly transforms into hostility after one too many comely girls inexplicably throws herself at a bewildered, unremarkable boy. The male love interest is nearly always to blame. Despite his harem's collective questionable taste, ol' Potato-kun's lack of assertiveness or any other redeeming characteristic is the reason why viewers find harem comedies increasingly frustrating. In this regard, Eita from Oreshura is at least is off to a semi-decent start.
First of all, he's not "normal" unmotivated slug. He's at the top of his class and aspires to become a doctor. Prior to Masuzu's shenanigans, he studied constantly. Secondly (and technically these constitute spoilers from the light novels and the manga), he's not terrified of girls. Sadly, harem comedy leads literally frightened of girls seem to be the contemporary norm. Why? Is there no other way to drag out a dozen episodes besides ensuring Male Protagonist and First Girl He Sees cannot canoodle early and often? Or is it so a stereotyped target demographic can identify with him? Are Japanese otaku really as "herbivorous" as certain tabloids accuse? It's not even harem comedy leads who act this way; ol' Hero from Maoyuu Maou Yuusha is a potato, and humans in his world didn't even have potatoes until Demon King planted some.
So Eita is not afraid of girls. This is good news, right? Well, you'd think so. It means he doesn't have any reason not to romance his childhood friend except, well, he just doesn't see her that way. Chiwa sympathizers will likely find Oreshura extremely frustrating in this regard, because he friendzones the Bejesus out of her. Sucks to be Chiwa. Personally, I'm pleased with the show so far because it hasn't been about a bunch of airheads vying for his attention. This does mean Eita ends up being the anime-dense one instead, though. And he is pretty dense. I can only assume towards the end of the show (if it doesn't punt with a non-ending ending), there will be some cathartic moment where he realizes he doesn't only love Chiwa as a friend, but also wants to rail her until she can't walk straight. The end.
Sadly, this conventional formulaic ending is probably the best we can hope for. Personally, I'm expecting a non-ending ending (because the anime will run out of episodes before the light novels conclude), but I believe all these early examples of Chiwa's suffering are intended to promote her placement as the principal love interest. Yeah, Masuzu might be better in every way, even though she doesn't wear any underwear, but Chiwa is a sweet kid and her life kinda sucks, so it's better if she wins. That's good, right? I'm not buying it. Fuck Chiwa. And if she wants people to stop calling her "chihuahua," she should stop wearing a dog collar around her neck.
Since I'm less likely now to start something I'm not certain I'll enjoy, I drop fewer shows these days. However, this trend apparently gets offset by my decreasing patience with shows in general, so I still dropped four shows winter 2013. Moreover, all four were fairly well-regarded by fans who aren't even disreputable. That is, the shows didn't suck; they just didn't appeal to me.
The "best" show I dropped was Love Live! School Idol Project which I stopped watching after episode five. I can see why other people enjoy it, but I never cared about the characters or the plight of their school. Some of the characters have interesting traits, but I didn't find them to be interesting people. I understand that schools closing due to Japan's declining birthrates is a genuine phenomenon, but it's not a problem that resonates with me personally. Also, I may have exceeded safe school-closure dosage levels after exposure to so many shows invoking that particular plot device.
I dropped Kotoura-san at episode nine. This is unusual for two reasons: First, Kotoura-san is a really good show sometimes. Or at least it really has its moments. Second, after watching nine episodes of a single-cour series, I was so close to the end anyway it seems sticking it out and hoping for the best would have been a reasonable proposition. On problem with that though: Kotoura-san also annoyed the Bejesus out of me pretty frequently. Pointless cockblocking, idiotic one-note gags, and some really shitty writing offset the show's good qualities. I guess on average it's still at least okay as a whole, but it just wasn't worth it to me.
It seems so long ago now, but I dropped Maoyuu Maou Yuusha at episode three. It was frankly kinda boring, and the lengths it went to in order to prevent its lead characters from becoming romantically involved were kinda ridiculous. When the season's starchiest Potato-kun isn't the high school kid in the harem comedy, but rather the skillful warrior in the fantasy epic about economics and logistics, there's a problem.
I had no interest in starting GJ-bu until maybe a couple weeks ago when its vocal fans and their adoration reached critical mass. Something about brushing girls' hair? I dunno, couldn't be that bad. The most passionate fans were particularly enamored of a character named Shion and episode five—the one where she gets her hair brushed. Okay, I guess I can watch five episodes of this thing. Well, it turns out it's not a bad show at all, but it did not appeal to me in the slightest. I guess it's because I prefer "cool," confident, and capable female characters doing things adeptly or with aplomb. Conversely, I dislike "cute" girls who are deliberately broken or inept in some fashion to appear more attractive. As a rule of thumb, I think I should just avoid anything described by other anime fans as "adorable." That seems to be a politically correct code word for "loli" or "mentally deficient" depending on whether the character in question is a small child or an adolescent. (E.g., Rikka from Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!) You may remember that I railed against K-On! for its aggravating Retard Moé shtick.
However, GJ-bu wasn't so much Retard Moé as it was Autism Moé. This is not a term I coined or attached to the show, and I can't remember who said it first, but I certainly agree it is apt. These are not normal girls by any stretch of the imagination. I'm not suggesting solidly average boring girls would have been an improvement, but I'm increasingly put off by the "cute girls doing cute things" trope being extended ever further away from merely eccentric (or even neurotic) behavior towards an ideal where anime girls are basically pets or small children. This is not a new or unique criticism of moé to be sure, and I don't even have any opposition towards moé in general. I just can't enjoy the glamorization of these hopeless girl-shaped caricatures, even if they do have flaxen hair. Snow White had that too, but let's face it, she wouldn't have lasted two days alone in that forest without her benevolent animal friends.