Winter 2011 Anime Guide Pt. 1: Cold as Ice

New season are exciting, no? I like to go in without knowing too much about shows, unless of course I’ve read its source material. But as shows started getting released my hopes started sinking, for whatever reason the earlier shows this season were rather weak as a whole. But things kicked in a little later and I’m happy to say the winter season is by no means a flop.

hisuicon Apparently the formula to the boom and bust of shows getting simulcast is much simpler than I first assumed. Since the Winter and Summer seasons are considered the lesser seasons these shows are cheaper to license so we see far more shows being picked up for simulcast as opposed to the two main broadcast seasons. Now that I know the magical equation for licensing I will reiterate out standard season preview rules. First and foremost we do not watch every show that comes out. We here at Reverse Thieves maintain our sanity and prevent burn out by skipping any show that seems absolutely retched although we on occasion take a risk and will sample something that is probably dire but might have a faint hope of being entertaining. The second is that we don’t review sequels and continuations as you usually know exactly what you were going to get from the earlier iteration. There is one very special exception to that rule this year. We will not be looking at Gosick in this guide because we are going to do episode reviews of the anime every Tuesday. This is hardly our transformation from an editorial blog to an episodic blog but we figured it would be fun to try. (Also this lays the ground work for me to episode blog the Fate/Zero anime when it comes out.)

Fractale

I’m living in the kernel of a rank-one map
From my domain, its image looks so blue,
‘Cause all I see are zeroes, it’s a cruel trap
But we’re a finite simple group of order two

– Finite Simple Group (of Order Two) by The Klein Four

As a Noitamina show, you can always go in with decent expectations. And the way the director was talking about it, there was no way to go in with anything less than high hopes. Luckily, the first episode was incredibly charming with its family show feeling. Clain’s adventure starts when seeing a beautiful girl being chased, he subsequently helps to hide her. She ends up leaving an amulet with him that contains lost technology. Everyone has already made the Ghibli comparisons but I’ll add that the beginning indeed felt like Laputa. I found myself both thrown off and intrigued by the setting, there is future technology, current world technology, and steampunk technology all set in what looks like the European countryside where small markets and normal looking cars are used. There are also priestesses. Where will this giant mishmash go is what I’m looking forward to most.

hisuiconThere are some pretty high expectations for this show considering how many big names are working on it and how much hype this show has gotten. So far I can’t say the show has lived up to those high hopes but I think it has the potential to do so. The world is interesting and has a very odd feeling of being super advanced but somewhat retro at the same time (with the main character collecting old technology reinforcing this idea.) The interplay between Clain and Phryne was fairly amusing although they both seem to have an odd mood swings at points. At the same time the villains distinctly have the feel of the Dorombo Gang from Yatterman. The plot still seems to be as of yet unrevealed so I am reversing judgment of how much you need to watch this but there is nothing that says you should not give this a chance. It has potential to go either way but if it succeeds it might be wonderful.

Rio – Rainbow Gate!

Cherry ice cream smile I suppose it’s very nice
With a step to your left and a flick to the right
You catch that mirror way out west
You know you’re something special and you look like you’re the best.

Rio by Duran Duran

hisuiconRio is without a doubt the most innovative concept I have seen in several years. A complex gambling manga that uses the a different song of Duran Duran as a motif for each episode while having that razor’s edge tension of Akagi. Oh. I’m sorry that I wanted this to be. It is instead one of the dumbest gambling anime I have ever seen. I know that you can’t expect TOO much out of a show like Rio but it sadly neither was horrible enough nor fun enough to be entertaining. The little girl’s strangely sexual admiration of Rio  is never too tasteless but it also is never endearing as well. Rio despite her cool fight scene comes of as a weak-willed pushover. The gambling is boring and weird and smacks of poorly executed video game silliness. The big reveal of the bad guy’s plot is so colossally moronic it borders on awe-inspiring. Rio is really only worth watching streaming just to see how bad the first episode is and then you can happily never watch another episode again.

This show was dumb. Not really bad, just dumb; as in I’m dumber from having watched this. I’m more than a little weirded-out that the main character is actually a little girl who is being babysat by Rio; exactly why would we want to see things from her perspective? The biggest crime is the gambling is in no way exciting; just odd and boring! Plus, people’s stories are a flop. Rio is like a combo of magical girl/gambling? And on top of that, I don’t think there was enough fan-service to somehow recommend the show on that low-level. For totally random purposes I gotta say Rio doesn’t seem all that attractive, at least not to the extent of how characters are reacting to her, and it’s not as if the rest of the cast is made up of withered old grandmas; maybe it’s the terrible outfits . . .

IS (Infinite Stratos)

D, world destruction
Over and overture
N, do I need
Apostrophe T, need this torture?

Don’t don’t don’t let’s start
This is the worst part

Don’t Let’s Start By They Might Be Giants

hisuiconI would like to mention that I saw several quick reviews of this show on twitter that said the fight scene at the beginning was amazing and lushly animated and body of the show at the school was horrible. While the fact of the matter is everyone is correct about the school drama. It is a paint by numbers romp with one guy at an all girl’s school in which mildly annoying characters go through the standard harem comedy hi-jinks with robots in the background. The utterly amazing fact is that no one mentions during the mecha battles consist mainly of people in open-faced power armor that makes them look like freaky Mecha Musume. I mention this because Mecha Musume maybe silly but I see why people kind them cute. This just looks really horrific to the point of disturbing. There is a reason most mecha shows do not use this technique. I can’t remember anything that happened in the first fight in the show because I was so traumatized by the pilots looking like some unholy mechanical chimera. Also that can’t be the most effective mecha design because I would always aim for the easy to see human in the front rather that than the mechanical parts.

So now switch over to an all-girl military school with one boy show. The harem aspect of the show doesn’t really need that much comment, it is pretty standard affair, which never comes off as totally horrible but isn’t taking the genre up a level. This of course includes all the personality tropes you might expect. The mecha part of this show is what is most interesting. The first battle is really nice; it is animated well and has good visual tension. However, when I saw not robot heads but human ones, this was actually power armor, it was deeply jarring. I think it must be the scale that was making it look so freaky to me. The overarching plot is not really clear yet so there could be potential there I suppose. The cast just seems so run of the mill that I wasn’t enticed to find out.

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

Yeah, do you believe in magic
Yeah, believe in the magic of a young girl’s soul
Believe in the magic of rock and roll
Believe in the magic that can set you free

Do You Believe in Magic by The Lovin’ Spoonful

hisuiconThis might even beat Utena and Princess Tutu for oddest magical girl visuals although I have yet to determine if that is a good thing or not. But when they do anything in the magical realm it looks like a modern art interpretation of the classic Yellow Submarine cartoon with an Akiyuki Shinbo touch. The story itself is hardly original but so far it has been well executed. In the end magical girl shows all come down to execution. They mostly follow a very similar but when you do things right you can get something remarkable like Cardcaptor Sakura or HeartCatch PreCure!. Hopefully the story will be as daring as the visuals without going into icky Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha territory. I do know I thoroughly enjoyed the Gate of Babylon filled with nothing but rifles scene. Also I am pulling for the final villains to be revealed to be the Blue Meanies. I must end this with a quick observation. I have heard people complain that the show oversimplified Ume Aoki’s characters designs. As far as I can tell the only way to simplify her character designs is to make them stick figures.

I’m always looking for a new magical girl show to knock my socks off. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t expecting that from this show. I think it’s no secret that I’m not a Shinbo fan, or a SHAFT fan, or a Hidamari Sketch fan so the only real thing that was enticing me was the magical girl aspect. The opening scene was a great start. There was danger, prophecy, and mystery that grabbed me and it felt like the right beginning. As the story continued to lay the ground work introducing characters plus a new transfer student, Madoka hearing the call of a mysterious voice, and finally the ever popular transformation sequence, I found myself happy. The visuals are a mixed bag, sometimes stepping into macabre and surreal territory which I’m curious to see tie in somehow. I don’t know if Madoka Magica blew me away, but I’m more than willing to see what they are going to do with it.

Cardfight!! Vanguard

It’s Sometime in the Future
The Ultimate Challenge
CROSSFIRE!
( drums )
Huh
CROSSFIRE!
You’ll get caught up in the
CROSSFIRE!

The Crossfire Commercial

Ever since I got hooked on Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds, I look forward to over the top card game shows. What we have here is a show where card game playing is everywhere, even in class the teacher used cards! Young Aichi has his rare Blaster Blade card stolen by a classmate thus he must battle to get it back! I doubt people were going into this show with high expectations but it is exactly what you’d expect to see, including some basic instructions on how to play Vanguard. There aren’t any surprises in Cardfight!!’s debut episode, but it also does pretty much what it sets out to do with an air of ease.

hisuiconWhen Akira Ito the manga artist behind Yu-Gi-Oh! R and Satoshi Nakamura the original Duel Masters technical advisor decide to team up the only logical result is Cardfight!! Vanguard. Anything else would have possibly ripped a hole in time space. You have a wimpy kid with crazy hair that gets his super care card stolen from him. You have a bully with crazy hair that loses said card to an ice-cold kid with crazy hair who is also a pro player.  It is a children’s card game show where the card game is a serious business affair that determines who lives and who dies. More importantly it is a children’s card game show designed to sell cards to children. Sadly we have not seen anything that trumps card games on motorcycles but there might be some equally ridiculous gimmick in the future. Until than anyone who has ever watched any anime based on a card game know exactly how interested they are in watching this series. I almost forgot. There is one major plus for Cardfight!! Vanguard. They have a JAM Project opening.

Haiyoru! Nyaruani: Remember My Love(craft-sensei)

Do you remember? The time when our eyes first met?
Do you remember? The time when our hands first touched?
That was the very first time I set out on the journey of love.
I love you so.

– Do You Remember Love? by Mari Iijima

hisuiconThat was certainly very odd. Apparently this is based on a series of light novels about a boy who lives the cute girl versions of various incomprehensible monsters of the Lovecraft Mythos. This is the logical Japanese moe conclusion from the path created by things like the plush Cthulhu. At 5 minutes (including a full length opening) these are not adaptions of the light novels but little bonuses for people who are already reading the novels. That said they use super cheap flash animation in the meat of the show and the jokes are bizarrely sexual and not that funny. With no experience to the main story all of this falls flat although I would venture to guess that even if I read the main story it would still be uninteresting. I suppose the two people on earth who like Lovecraft and moe will be thrilled that this exists but everyone else can stay away.

This show isn’t really animated, except for the opening, yet it is only a few minutes long. And I mean super not animated. I’m not sure who or what is appealing about this show. It was just a weird scenario that wasn’t very funny even though it clearly seems like a little omake series.

6 thoughts on “Winter 2011 Anime Guide Pt. 1: Cold as Ice

  1. Justin says:

    I have to disagree with Narutaki–I think Rio is hot. Otherwise, we don’t need to get into anything else about the show because I agree.

    Also, I had never heard of Haiyoru! at all until I read this post. It might be bad that I know it now…

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