Fall 2010 Anime Guide: A Musical

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears

Fiddler on the Roof’s Sunrise, Sunset

Another season of anime has come and another set of season previews is upon us and we both try to find some new shows to watch and learn a few shows to avoid like the plague. This time around we spiced things up with some lyrical thoughts on each show before the main previews. As a reminder, we don’t review ongoing series, sequels, or anything that we are more than likely not going to like.

Iron Man

Nobody wants him
He just stares at the world
Planning his vengeance
That he will soon unfold

hisuiconSadly the Iron Man TV series is exactly the anime I suspected it would be and not the anime I had hoped it would be. A show that basically understands the Iron Man formula that made the movies so successful but is just off enough that it never clicks. It is sadly never mecha enough to be the Japanese Iron Man nor American enough to be the Marvel Iron Man. The show’s greatest sin is that the action scene are so quick that if you turn to talk you might miss them. Also Nanami, the Japanese reporter, seems utterly superfluous at this point and she does not even fulfill the eye candy position like a Bond girl. I never thought it was bad but I was also never gripped as well. I might watch more if it goes streaming but until then I am fine. Speaking of which I still don’t see why they are waiting for 2011 to play in on G4. This should have been simulcast on day one in Japan and the U.S.  I am curious to see how well the sales and ratings will be in the casual market despite the fact that it will be fully fan-subbed before  anyone can see episode 1 on American TV or buy the first DVD.

Oh Iron Man how I looked forward to you. This must have been my great downfall. This show felt weird from the get-go from the pacing to the character designs that seemed right out of 90’s man-ime. The best way to describe the feeling of this show is clunky. Iron Man kept fading to black after every scene, many of which were only a minute or two long, and then ending up not so far from where they already were. The best example is Tony asking the reporter for a ride while standing next to the car. After she says yes, the show fades to black, and then the next scene is them driving along. You couldn’t animate him getting in the car? Iron Man seems underserved both in story and animation so I can’t say I was intrigued enough to watch anymore.

Kuragehime (Jellyfish Princess)

So never judge a book by its cover
Or who you gonna love by your lover
Love put me wise to her love in disguise
She had the body of Venus
Lord imagine my surprise

Aerosmith’s Dude Looks Like A Lady

hisuiconIt would be easy to say that Kuragehime is another wonderful noitaminA show that you need to watch and leave it at that but that would be a shame because there is a lot of good things to talk about with this show. It is a show about a house of girl geeks that are well, actually geeky, and not just fetish fuel for the male viewers. The “nuns” of the all female Amamizukan apartment building are amusing and colorful and we see everything from a doll fanatic to a warring states fangirl. Tsukimi seems an awkward but likable and being a jellyfish otaku is definitely an unusual hobby. The stylish Kuranosuke Koibuchi is an interesting wild card added to the mix. I am curious to see where the show is going but I have confidence that it is going in a positive direction. It is further proof that there are some amazing Josei properties that could appeal to an older anime fan market if promoted correctly.

In honesty, I was a little on guard when I started this show. What with a recent slue of otaku series that are a lot more fetish than I’d like to see, I was cautious treading here. My fears quickly dissipated as the cast slowly revealed itself. This story is full of quirky characters, yet quirky in that relatable way even though their particular obsessions are unique, and the feeling of camaraderie was wonderful. Kuragehime is a geeky sitcom but it has a couple of mysteries in its midst and maybe even some romance later. And with a sweet opening, I am incredibly excited for this show.

Bakuman

If you really like it you can have the rights,
It could make a million for you overnight.
If you must return it, you can send it here
But I need a break and I want to be a paperback writer,
Paperback writer.

The Beatles’s Paperback Writer

hisuiconBakuman struck me as the one anime that was on everyone’s To Watch list this season. It is based on a successful manga written by Tsugumi Ohba and drawn by Takeshi Obata the creators of Death Note so it had an amazing amount of buzz going in. Overall I think it lived up to that buzz. When I read the first chapter in Shonen Jump the impression I got is the series seems amazingly meta. It is the story about a pair of manga-ka written by a pair of manga-ka. Also just the opening with Super Hero Legend is a wink and a nod to several manga series. A reluctant but talented artist is drawn into drawing manga by an ambitious writer. The comedy is well executed and the two main characters have an easy chemistry. Miho Azuki the love interest seems like a generic sweet girl but she is almost unimportant to the main plot other than as a tool for motivation for Moritaka. Overall while parts of the series seem very familiar it seem well executed. I am slightly curious as to why this is not streaming anywhere because it seems like an obvious pick. But I am sure that this will be coming to the English-speaking world one way or another soon enough.

I know a lot of people have read this manga, but my first introduction to the series was the anime though I did have a vague notion of the plot. When we meet Moritaka things seem a bit average, minus the whole uncle as a manga-ka thing, and the occurrences of friendship and romance typical. However, as the episode goes along it continues to push itself into over the top, which made it endearing and fun. Takagi is a hilarious and rambunctious and even devious counterpart that awakens Moritaka’s secretly naive dreamer attitude. I’m not sure what to make of the impending romance with Miho, the ending of the episode was hilariously romantic, but I certainly don’t have anything against it. Bakuman made me laugh and I was completely charmed by it.

Psychic Detective Yakumo

Lemme tell ya something
Bustin’ makes me feel good!

Ray Parker’s Ghostbusters

hisuiconThis is an unremarkable but competent psychic investigator series with some girl service thrown in. There is nothing particularly wrong with the series but at the same time there is little that hooked me as well. The characters are serviceable but never rise above that. Yakumo Saitou is a seemingly mercenary guy who secretly has a heart of gold and Haruka Ozawa is the standard bland self insertion girl. While they thankfully are never annoying both leads are also as dull as dishwater. Your characters don’t have to be super quirky for me to like them but they should have some spark to them. There are some very silly parts to the first episode but nothing is ever bad enough for me to hate the show. Although Narutaki and I were amused then the leads are having a heart to heart on top of a burning building. You have to go in wanting to like this show for it to hook you otherwise it will just leave you cold like it did me.

I don’t feel particularly strong about this show either way. It wasn’t good, for sure, but it wasn’t especially terrible. The biggest flaw is the portrayal of Yakumo who mostly comes off like a soulless pretty boy rather than a bored genius but you can tell the studio thought they were giving us a perfect, silent protagonist with something going on under the surface. As for the mystery itself, it was not too great either. The ghosts do most of the figuring out rather than Yakumo who even tries to play off knowing who the killer was because of something he let slip when really we learn later that a ghost described the killer to a t. The only thing I am slightly curious about is how the girl will fit in, will she be his assistant? Love interest? Something else? Though I can’t really see that as central to this story and therefore not a reason to watch.

Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt

Powerpuffs save the day…
Fighting crime,
Trying to save the world
Here they come just in time

The Powerpuff Girls end theme song

hisuiconWe have all been in the situation were someone tells an off-color joke in a group and some people think it is hysterical and everyone else is just left uncomfortable. Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt is the anime equivalent of that off-color joke. The story is about two crass fallen angels who have to lay waste to ghosts as penance to heaven with a variety of sexual and gross out humor.  It is best summed up by the fact in the first half they fight what is essentially a building sized version of the Golgothan demon from Dogma. I get they are going for the juxtaposition of the cute and stylized Invader Zim art with the anything but cute perversion. In fact the unusual art style and extremely blue humor reminds me of Gaianx’s previous work Oruchuban Ebichu. But just like the out-of-place joke I mentioned at the beginning it just falls just as flat for me.

You can’t miss the style and design present in Panty & Stocking; if you’ve watched American cartoons in the last 10 years it is probably obvious. This is what I enjoyed best about the show, even the theme song is a funny parody of something you might find on CN. The story of these two angels who are no ladies is full of dirty humor as well as toilet jokes. There is kind of a story, but it doesn’t seem to matter that much, it is a comedy show that you can watch a random episode of. There is a bold and manic atmosphere for the most part, though I did find my attention waning in the first half. However, this boldness didn’t translate through to engage me. This has been a real divisional show and I’m on the side that didn’t much care for it.

Tantei Opera Milky Holmes

She’s got her ear to the walls and she’s tappin’ the calls
If you’ve got a secret boy, forget about it, ’cause she’s a

They Might Be Giant’s  (She Was A) Hotel Detective

hisuiconEverything about this show gave out warning signals that this was going to be a bad show. The super moe designs, the fact that is based on a PSP visual novel, and most of all the really awkward name all point to the show being horrible. But the idea of a world of detectives vs phantom thieves was appealing enough that we took a gamble. Clearly that gamble did not pay off.  Everything about the show is just mildly annoying. The heart of the problem is that apparently the 4 girls who make up the Milky Holmes team are useless as detectives and they use magic powers called Toys as a crutch to solves crimes. So when they lose their powers in the first episode they just become pathetic bumblers. And they are not amusing bumbling detectives like Inspector Clouseau but just useless little brats. The fact that one of the phantom thieves is a professor at the detective academy who constantly exposes his rock hard nipples and mention offhandedly to the class that he is a phantom thief and no one finds this amiss is pretty sad considering EVERYONE IN THE SCHOOL IS SUPPOSEDLY A WORLD CLASS DETECTIVE! I feel almost like the show is a parody of itself except for the fact that none of it amuses me in the least. The quicker I forget about this show the better.

I was more than a little skeptical about this show, the combination of one of my favorite things, detectives, with super cute put me a little on guard. And the actual result didn’t quell that skepticism. Dumb is kind of the word I think of first with this show. I do like the setting being the age of detectives, but everything past that point is just sad. All great detectives actually have a superpower, implying that includes Sherlock Holmes, that makes them able to solve cases? I wish I could say that wasn’t true, but no. At least the girls lose their powers and one would assume they will have to learn to be real detectives, but the episode gave me no faith in that. Their incompetence, naiveté, and obliviousness are not endearing, more maddening that the show expects me to believe that they were once at the top of the class. The villains are equally weird, and one very creepy, who just highlight how bad these girls are at being detectives. To top it all off, this show is not for little girls, which would still make it bad but slightly less so, but for grown men as the ending gives us shots of them in too tight swimsuits.

Togainu no Chi

With your feet in the air and your head on the ground
Try this trick and spin it, yeah
Your head will collapse
If there’s nothing in it
And you’ll ask yourself

The Pixies’ Where is My Mind

hisuiconMediocre adaptions of mediocre porn games are not just for boys anymore! Now women everywhere can watch bland and boring anime based on their favorite mid tier BL visual novels. While this is oddly enough positive progress, as I feel both genders should be able to get what they want, that does not mean I have to watch any of it either. It is the story of an angst filled street fighter who is set up by The Man to fight in even more deadly street fights in a post-apocalyptic city straight out of Fist of the North Star. He is separated from his ambiguously gay friend and thrown into a city were he runs into an ambiguously gay swordsmen. The problem is the fighting is ho-hum and the main character is a tabula rasa so you don’t really care if he lives or dies. I am sure that the BL fans read tons into his blank expressions and fill out his character but I can but in the effort to do that. I am sure there are great BL game adaptions waiting to be made but this is not one of them.

The character designs give it away from the beginning, this show has major BL leanings, and then the later knowledge of it being based on a visual novel seals the deal. There is something very unremarkable about the stat of this show, like it is trying too hard to be gritty and tough but the character designs and dialogue are throwing it off. Furthering on boredom started to set in as the hero of our story is bland and lifeless despite being a bad-ass.  The twist of a deadly game being proposed throws in a bit of interest but the characters proposing it are more interesting than the people involved in it. Without one character worth caring about, much less interesting enough to follow, the end violence is just as boring as the beginning.

Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru

With dessert, she’ll want tea*
And my dear that’s fine with me
While the cups do their soft-shoein’
I’ll be bubbling, I’ll be brewing

Beauty And The Beast’s Be Our Guest Lyrics

*Tea not actually featured in this show.

hisuiconThis is unmistakably a quirky Shinbo directed Studio Shaft comedy with all that implies. It also has an otaku appeal humor that further moves it into the niche category. The fact that it revolves around the antics of an unusual maid cafe screams that it is for otaku only. I found its odd humor clicking with me but Narutaki did not seem anywhere  as amused.  It think the quirky delivery of characters like Hotori is something that I usually enjoy more than Narutaki. I was sort of shocked that the ugly friend Harue was legitimately ugly but they quickly fall back to formula by having the other friend Toshiko be a busty glasses girl who is a maid otaku. I am curious if and when this becomes the detective manga I was promised. I will accept this being a silly detective series but so far I see no investigation or hints of crime solving going on. It seems more like a silly romantic comedy revolving around a cafe. I will watch to see where it goes. If nothing else the opening is extremely catchy.

Another detective show for the season, we at least I though it was, but now I’m not so sure. I was rather excited by this show’s opening, had it lived up to that zaniness I would have more to say about it than it was mildly amusing sometimes. I realized rather quickly from the constant and often pointless cutting to randomness in the show that Soredemo was superficially trying to have that SHAFT style. But to little avail. The girls and their new-found positions at a maid cafe have their moments of greatness to be sure and the show certainly has a lot of absurdest qualities, but many times I found myself scratching my head about it.

Shinryaku! Ika Musume

For tooth paste strawberry is the one to use
Planet Kero is the best in the universe probably
Ah 5 minutes from the station turned out to be 15
Ah well oh well I guess a job well done!

Chiyoko Mori’s KERO! to MARCH

hisuiconI went into this show this a reasonable amount of apprehension. It seems like a very silly show, with a very silly premise, and a very annoying cast. While it is a very silly show, the cast is adorable, and then show itself is really fun. If there is anything to complain about it is that the show is essentially Sgt. Frog with a cute but stupid squid girl from the sea instead of a cute but stupid frog from outer space. I can easily show you how all the character in the main cast have their counterparts to someone in Sgt. Frog but that is not important to me. What is important is it is a cute little formula comedy. I see it following a very set pattern of the squid girl getting into some trouble in her plan to take over the land, hilarity ensuing, and then everything resetting at the end. Hardly a deep show but if you like the first episode it will keep a smile on your face for the rest of the season. I’m not sure if it will have legs parts 1 season but for now it seems fine.

This seems like the show of the season for light humor, silliness, and clean fun. I half-imagine to find Squid Girl as  mascot for Japanese tourism soon. When Squid Girl, a not very menacing looking character, comes to the local beach shop and declares war on humanity things only get more crazy from there. The character designs are simple enough lending itself to slapstick and parody. There characters themselves are of course a mixed bag each playing off the ditzy Squid Girl. This isn’t the best comedy ever, but it is serviceable enough and should put a smile on your face.

Yosuga no Sora

She don’t wear no underwear
She said it only gets in her hair
And it’s got a funny way of stoppin’ the juice

Prince’s Sister

hisuiconWow. I mean. Wow. This shows starts of in a way that would get a mild review about how mediocre and forgettable this show is. A boy and his sister move back into their hometown after their parents die. The sister is sickly and possessive. We are introduced to a bevy of girls including but not limited to a genki shrine maiden, a quiet rich girl, a childhood friend with glasses, and a busty maid.  All the girls in the town want this guys’ body for no discernible reason. They blush whenever they seem him and talk about how hot he is. It seems like the most cliché wish-fulfillment show. Then we get a scene where the sister remembers her and her brother making out as kids. And we think … wait … is she masturbating? But then we move on and get a scene of the glasses girl masturbating in the tub. Then during the night the little sister comes into the room and asks the brother to make her cum. You heard me right. They end on a omake with the maid masturbating and then crying. This is played for laughs. Wow. If you ever wished those shonen romance shows would just cut to the chase and show all the gritty details of the guy getting it on with his harem then this is the show for you. Other than that stay way. Stay very far away. Don’t make any assumptions because this is on TV. This is porn. Plain and simple.

Ah, my eyes! I really don’t want to talk about this show. I was more surprised that this was aired this way on television what with nipples and no less than three masturbation scenes. It is pretty much porn so you can imagine what kind of brilliant plot line that entails as well as awful dialogue and utterly transparent relationships. I realize I have to tread more carefully with television anime these days.

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