Well, now that we’re two episodes into the season, I’m getting a feel for the series that I said I might follow this fall. My original plan had been to follow only two series this season. One reason was because I was getting obligated on too many series, and the other was that I was actually finding myself disappointed that there wasn’t much “new” coming out to buy and watch — if I was interested, I’d seen it already. (Black Lagoon being one of the few exceptions.) So I have been buying animÃ© just because it was “new,” only to have it sit on the shelf because I wasn’t really interested in it. This is known in many countries as “a waste of money” or “government spending.”
But the best laid plans o mice an men gang aft agley….
Clannad: Loser. I’m just not enjoying this series. It’s got a whole lot more depressing and angsty vibe to it than Kanon. The main character is obviously troubled; saddled with an alcoholic, gambling father that he no longer loves, or even respects. The “otherworld” aspects are not really in place yet, and frankly, look even more depressing than the real world.
Sadly, I may have to take KyoAni productions off my “must see” list after two straight losers in a row. I can’t say as I was even motivated enough to take screencaps for this one.
Rental Magica: Winner (tentative). It’s shaping up to be a decent show, I think. Honami’s witch-hat costume is a bit off-putting. I can forgive Tweeny Witches that folible, but this is aiming at an older audience. Still, all the other elements that I was afraid would be stupid are turning out to have some hidden surprises. The first episode sets up three elements I expected to drag the story down: the guy at the center (Iba Itsuki) getting no respect, the obvious “eye trump,” and the harem. I’m not sure yet if the latter is two girls, three, four, (or even five if the loli counts). One is Honami, Astral’s Celtic magic expert, and Iba’s childhood friend. She’s determined to make something of his magical skill, even if it kills him, and flips from despising to mothering him, constantly. I’ve never seen a guilt-tsundere before, but Honami has some issues relating to their shared past. Surprisingly, the other major rival, Addie, is a foreigner, being a blond wizard from the UK, whom Honami also shares a history with. Why exactly Addie falls for Iba has yet to be shown; she’s mildly tsundere and somewhat unscrupulous — and Astral’s archrival for business. (Interestingly, she uses no honorific when addressing Iba. Oversight, cultural authenticity, insult, or something else entirely?) Of course it turns out that all three of them attend the same school, along with at least one of the other girls.
It’s hinted that Kunugi, a classmate he saves in the first episode, might be a third girl, and the fourth (possible) is the apprentice, Kuroha. We’ve seen little of her so far. The fifth, assuming they add the loli, is Mikan, a Shinto magic expert. It may be that none of the three are interested in him, and I’m just equating “cute school-age females” with “haremettes.” It’s also possible that Syria didn’t have a nuke assembly plant fresh off the boat from N.K., and the Israeli pilots just got lost on the way to band camp (while coincidentally carrying a full load-out of bombs), but I can’t find any takers for that bet either.
There is one other guy present, Nekoyashiki, who quietly supports Iba when the others are down on him. Unsurprisingly, with that name, he’s a shikigami-controlling cat enthusiast. It’s evident that the writers plan to roll the backstory out a bit at a time; the second episode occurs some weeks or months prior to the first, just after Iba took over Astral and became president, and apparently before Kuroha arrives. We see Iba’s first meeting with Addie, and learn a bit about how his eye ended up being his greatest asset — and curse. So far, this show hasn’t been outstanding, but it might be interesting. Worth following, for now.
Shakugan no Shana II: Winner, and how. It’s still got the teen angst, but that’s been toned down to a tolerable level. In season one, I tended to dismiss Yoshida as the “also-ran” who existed just to add angst to the show, but I’m really starting to like her as a character. She is determined to win, and while Yoshida may be intimidated. she isn’t backing down an inch to Shana. Yoshida is fighting on her terms and knows even so, that she’s outgunned, but is determined to win anyway. She’s forcing her opponent to gamely try and learn the rules of a war Shana is unfamiliar with, and even Wilhelmina is getting a bit angsty, upset at losing influence over Shana to Yuuiji and his mom.
If I have had any complaint about the first season (aside from the angst), it’s that Yuuiji was wishy-washy with the women. In the past, I thought this was inconsistent with someone with his level of empathy for people. How could he string Yoshida out like that? I finally realized that he’s actually being very consistent — the problem is, he’s too empathetic. Remember how he swallowed his disappointment over Hiragi being sweet on IkÃ©, instead of himself, and promised to help get them together, even before the RinnÃ© killed her? And how he idiotically defended the RinnÃ© that looked like a beautiful woman? Face it, fighting a Tomogara is nothing, but when a pretty girl is involved, Yuuiji’s got all the spine of your average bowl of oatmeal. Spoiler:
“Second episode animation drop syndrome” is evident, although the overall quality is still up (edit: way up, I just looked at last season to compare, and it really doesn’t), and I note that fuzetsu are now done in the same style as the movie; that’s apparently a permanent art change. The new song is hard rock, and overall, I think this OP is the best I’ve seen in a while. J.C. Staff obviously spent a dime on it, and the images hint of new villains… or allies — and that IkÃ©’s threat to “take action” wasn’t just words:
Story-wise, they did a bang-up job of summarizing the first season, setting up the second, and ratcheting up the tension. The Bal Masque is moving, and Yuuiji is not even certain of the reality he sees….
GoshÅ«shÅ-sama Ninomiya-kun: Winner. Maybe. The animation isn’t great (better than HIMM, I’ll grant), logic and common sense are for the birds, and I have no clue what Ryoko and Mikihiru think they are doing. I’m not sure they do either, but that doesn’t change that this wish-fulfillment sex fantasy is off to a pander-rific start. Swimsuits, school uniforms, bondage, meido, aggressive sexual harassment (by girls), cosplay, tsunderes, strongly implied yuri, chicks in guys’ shirts, a little sexual “roughhousing”…. that’s just the second episode!
Looks like we’re about to get into the supporting characters next. My major problem is how this show is handling the primary characters. It’s hard to say whether Mayu or Reiko is being more inconsistent, because it’s not yet established what a succubus is supposed to be like. Sometimes she just seems to turn the brain off and go on instinct. Or insane, take your pick. But the OP is growing on me. It’s, er…. energetic… and, uh….. bouncy. Yes, bouncy. Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy…. and appears to be sung by both of the haremettes’ seiiyus.
One plus for this series: no lolis!
Dragonaut: Loser: Questionable cell animation, crappy 3D. I mean almost Misaki Chronicles crappy. Tries too hard to seem different, but so far has come out as just another generic “boy with [x] gets roped into secret project” show. The [x] here appears to be his triple connection to the Big Secret: His entire family was killed by it, his ex-best friend is enrolled in the secret agency to fight against it, and (Spoiler):
The OP hints at yuri, huge boobs, angst, broken friendships, and more angst. Does anyone make shows about folks who can focus on saving humanity, or are we doomed to a diet of crappy sci-fi soap operas? If WWII had been like this, Roosevelt would have looked like Professor X and have been crippled years ago by his quasi-enemy, Super Seiyjin Stalin; Hitler would have been the lunatic madman out to conquer/end/dominate/destroy the world, Mussolini would have been the jilted bishie lover of both Roosevelt and Stalin, Churchill would have been an angsty teenager, and Hirohito would have been a cute female high-schooler in a sailor outfit trying to end world militarism in time for this semester’s finals.
Crap, I think I just wrote the plot of at least one of next season’s new shows.
Well, finally there’s Night Wizards. Loser. Uninspired art and character design, no doubt stolen straight from the game. Forget character development, we got flashy powers, cool moves, forced humor, a put-upon hero, a loli leader, two loli villains, and as thin of a plot as you can expect from an RPG adaptation. The battles are definitely the strength of the show, although I like Angelot’s standard question before sending Hiragi or one of the others on a mission.
I do want to know how they kidnapped Yurika Misamaru for this show, though. She can teleport, after all.
Yes, that’s even a miko outfit she’s wearing. All we need is for her-dad-the-admiral to show up and compliment her breasts.
So anyway, I’m definitely following Shana II, plus GSNK and Renta Magica for the moment. If either of the latter two start to suck too much, I’ll drop them. Despite my fascination with Mayu, I suspect it’s GSNK that will get dropped, and it’s Renta Magica I’ll be most disappointed in if it doesn’t pan out.
UPDATE: Just watched the 3rd episode of GSNK. Good lord, maybe Shungo is an incubus? I can’t explain how every girl in the class seems to have the hots for him otherwise. You’d think all the guys would want to kill him for that, woudln’t you? Well, he does seem to lack for friends, I notice. Scarily, Mayu turns out to be a sports-animÃ© otaku. And if that’s child-Shungo and child-Mayu in the flashback dreams, then when did Shungo get the lobotomy and castration, ’cause he had the mack goin’ back then. He liked Mayu’s kiddie kisses so much, he went back for seconds. And for a meido, Reika sure has a lot of time to follow Shungo and Mayu around. When it comes to logic, the writers of this show didn’t abandon it on the side of the road like an unwanted pet, they actively drove it to the pound and tossed it over the fence in broad daylight, just to make sure it didn’t come back. C’mon, you think at some point, he’d turn and ask Mayu,
“Would I be safe from you if I used a rubber? “By any chance, have we met before?”
Dragonaut: It’s Album, not “the album;” or “Alwurm,” depending on your fansub of choice. Cue the useless angst and ridiculous plot contrivances, along with cool-but-useless action scenes. Yes, I was stupid enough to watch the third episode. ARGH! I want that wasted time back.)
UPDATE2: Moved the prior updates to the end so they’d be easier to find. After the horror of Dragonaut last night, if either of the two series “on the bubble” gets bumped, I may promote Night Wizards to replace Hayate, which shows every sign of being an ongoing, 100+ episode series. I lost interest when it started hyping the Butler Wars… the show is just going to become an endless rut with nothing new. I just don’t follow those–I have a hard time keeping my interest up after 40 episodes or so (the point at which I stopped watching Inuyasha, in fact). If Code Geass S2 ever gets underway, and I follow it to the end, it will be the longest animÃ© series I’ve ever followed from start to finish. (Except for CCS, which I bought as a package deal).