And a few shows more….

Continuing with some snap reviews of first episodes, below the fold:

Nyan Koi!: This looks to be as bad as I expected. If it had half the catgirls that show up in the OP, it would be worth continuing. If it subtracted all the catguys and cat-old-men from it, that would help. I was hoping for a snarky house-cat; instead I got a condescending old-woman semi-parental type. Some of the girls from the OP and ED look cute, but not worth it.

Kampfer: Surprisingly non-sucky, for the most part. Of course the school attended by Our Hero segregates boys and girls into opposite wings, so we can have oodles of fun with him ending up as the wrong sex in the wrong wing. (his transforming/fighting costume is his school’s girl uniform, of course) The other girls made the first episode work — the first one he encounters is a hyper-violent, foul-mouthed brashly assertive girl with a gun — except when she reverts to norm, she’s a terribly shy and polite meganekko who’s utterly horrified at her alter ego. (Edit: Yui Horie is voicing both parts, and she’s really showing off her range here.) Then there’s the girl, Kaede, that the hero (Natsuru) is sweet on — who immediately falls for his female form, much to his dismay. (Edit: and somehow fails to notice that she has the exact same name!) The OP hints at yuri romance between them. Apparently the school president is also a Kampfer. The girls are definitely cute, and there’s some mild fanservice. See Jason’s write-up for some (mostly SFW) fanservice.

One “kawaii/kowaii” point is a parody of merchandising — several of the characters own “Entrail Babies” which are bloody animal plushies with their entrails sticking out. The spirits that advise the Kampfers seem to like inhabiting them. I get a chuckle out of this; they’re just the kind of weird fetish collectible you might see in real life that makes one question the sanity of the people buying them. Sort of like pet rocks, if you know what I mean.

Seitoki no Ichizon: I failed to mention the OP and ED. Mostly forgettable j-pop, but the ED combines high energy music with chibis and some fanservice. Not bad.

A Certain Scientific Railgun: Bad news: it seems to have inherited some of the wall-of-text exposition levels from Index. There wasn’t any need for the dissertation by one of the defeated bank robbers on the relationship between Misaka (the Railgun, who can accelerate a coin to over 1km/sec with an accuracy of 18.9mm at an unspecified distance) and Shirai (of Judgment, the police force made up of only of junior high girls, it seems). We could already tell that Misaka’s power was magnetic/electrical, and that Shirai could teleport and had an insane yuri crush on Mikasa. To have a just captured criminal blurt it all out… what, her crush is that well-known? She didn’t even seem to mind his talking about it…

I was also somewhat disappointed in the animation of Misaka’s railgun effect — it seemed a little sub-amazing compared to the rest of crisp animation. The real problem was more along the lines of series pacing — given the tortuous pace of the Index story, I was disappointed that the entire episode was spent introducing us to the characters and the bizarro world they inhabit. I say bizarro, in that it’s perfectly normal for jr. high girls to be the police force and for civilian jr. high girls to volunteer to search the scene of an armed robbery (in progress!) for a lost boy, while adults are stopped by said police force from going into harms way. My suspension of disbelief is taking a hit here…

The OP was skipped, but I really like the ED, which is a high energy electro-pop number.
Edit: here it is — but I was wrong. It’s the OP, but they played it at the end of the episode:

Sacred Blacksmith I don’t like Cecilly, the girl. She’s all talk with no clue what she’s doing. She doesn’t come off as gutsy, she comes off as foolish. I don’t like her armor, which consists of the usual metal tits, a pauldron on the off-shoulder (she doesn’t use a shield, so it’s not like she’s leading with it) a bare sword arm, no leg or foot armor, and too much talk about her family lineage. Frankly, I don’t even like the way she’s drawn, with an Olivia D’Abo neck.

She’s good at terrorizing mouthy officials from the Empire, but in her first real fight, she gets her skinny ass handed to her, and her family’s heirloom sword broken. She’s not even a real knight (by our rules, dunno about theirs) having decided to take up the sword only a month ago when her father died and that made her head of the household. “Foolish bitch with a sword” doesn’t make for a good female lead. On the other hand, I think I like the guy, Luke. He came across as a moody and world-weary young man, who would prefer that the idiot girl (if not the whole world) just go away. However, when Luke was forced to forge a sword in seconds, using magic, the show surprised me. Occasionally, an author will incorporate something they care about in real life into their manga (or anime). The writer of this story did: the magical incantation wasn’t faux Latin, it wasn’t Engrish; it was, in order, all of the steps to actually forge a katana! He speaks them aloud while holding raw metal and a hilt inside a magic globe. Now that hit my “Cool!” button.

The OP and ED aren’t unpleasant, though they’re the usual J-pop. One other note… the free city we see is overlooked by a large, definitely-not-dormant volcano… and Luke’s preferred reading spot is a window facing its foreboding appearance. Things that make you go hmmmm. Overall, it’s more Pokemon than Kanokon.

Asura’s Cryn’ I was waiting all weekend for this one to appear on the torrents, only to finally notice that Crunchyroll had licensed it. Duh. Unfortunately, I’m having a hard time with the stream staggering, so it took forever to watch. What happened to download-to-own? Aside: I read a comment that blamed Gonzo’s finall fall on the use of DTO with Strike Witches…evidently it hammered the licensing value too much and they needed the revenue that badly?

Anyway, we finally start to get some answers in AC…which of course raise more questions. There was an experiment with a black hole on the school campus (nice labs for a high school, yeah?) It went bad, causing two worlds to intersect, one of which apparently contains magic and the mechas. Misato, Tomoharu, and Takatsuki are all at the facility when it happened. Misato, got caught in the area of effect; everything that was exposed to the hole’s explosion/decay is itself decaying into nothing, and eventually, it will wipe out the whole world. She’s put into a tank, evidently to slow her degeneration. Tomoharu volunteers go into the next world/the past/alternate world/whatever in the hopes of saving Misato and the world. He and Takatsuki get a vision of all this when they find the ruined lab (known as the “remains of the first world”). There’s also a homicidal stuffed koala bear that tries repeatedly to get Tomoharu killed. He’s the president of the science club as it happens. It’s things like that which make it earn ANN’s comment: “sometimes serious.”

Given how badly they botched the first season’s premise, I’m not expecting a lot; in fact the series would have been better to have most of the above explanation contained in the first season. Instead, it was just one long series of introductions, followed by a diversion and then capped with a melodramatic hostage crisis. I hope they can do better this time.

I was disappointed in the lack of Takatsuki fanservice compared to the first season; they missed an obvious wet shirt scene and a couple of other opportunities. The OP and ED are again by Angela; the ED is typical of their work, and not particularly memorable, but the OP is both better and worse. Worse in that it has a lengthy, slow intro that tries to be a moving ballad, but it’s obvious that the duo that makes up Angela are operating outside their forté. Once it finally gets past it and into the (too short in the TV version) main body, it’s one of their better tunes, up there with the first season’s Spiral.

Still waiting on Inuyasha, Heaven’s Lost Property, Natsu no Arashi, and The Book of Bantorra.

edited to add a couple of links & names.

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