Spring 2011 Anime Guide Part 2: Fast and the Furious

Watch:

Tiger and Bunny

The title Tiger and Bunny doesn’t exactly bring to mind power-armored superheroes, but that is just one of the delightful oddities about this series. The reality TV show aspect adds all kinds of entertaining variables including collectible cards, behind the scenes drama, hamming it up actors, and washed-up heroes. And that washed-up hero angle found in Kotetsu is what was both funny and endearing in the first episode. Even though he gets a second chance, it is obviously a rather suspicious deal that plays on the real-life seedy reputation much of the Hollywood machine (or the Japanese equivalent) has. Tiger and Bunny has tounge-in-cheek humor, cool action, a colorful cast, and even a bit of social commentary.

Tiger and Bunny right off the bat remind me of Astro Fighter Sunred in the fact that Tiger and Bunny does for superheros what Sunred does for Tokusatsu shows. It has a dry wit where it both acts as satire and homage to the genre it is looking at. But where as Sunred is mostly slice of life with no real plot and lots of gags Tiger and Bunny has a good deal of action and an overall plot plus its humor is also a bit more subtle and in the background. The humor naturally springs from the fact that there are corporate sponsored super heroes who fight crime with powers and super suits while earning points on reality TV. We clearly have a buddy cop formula with the old-timer who is being left behind is teamed up with the cocky young know it all. It is a fun show that knows how to take a ridiculous premise and ground it in something solid to produce an entertaining show. Kotetsu is sympathetic as a struggling single dad who wants be a proper hero in a world obsessed with appearances and his likable personality really sells the show. It looks like it will be a fun show to watch. I do wonder if the plot is going to get darker as we go on as even the first episode implies that this reality TV show might have a more sinister agenda.

Deadman Wonderland

As I stated in my review of the manga while it is clearly a shonen manga there are some distinct elements of seinen or at least out school shonen levels of violence, gore, and cynicism in this series. While they use some camera angles and darkness to tone down the gore that was in the original manga we still have to protagonist wading through a classroom filled with the body parts of his former friends scattered about when a girl’s head gets chucked at him. It is the perfect show for anyone who is tired of no one dying in shonen fighting shows. Ganta has been thrown in prison for a crime he did not commit with a mysterious power and a hunger for vengeance. It sounds like it could be a Go Nagai manga but this has a bit more of a modern fan friendly taste. While it is a bit odd that the maxim security jail in Japan was created around an abandoned amusement park in the ruins of Tokyo it does give the show a very unique sense of style.  I did notice that they did not mention that Tokyo was  destroyed in an earthquake like they did in the manga but considering recent events in Japan that is totally unsurprising.

The extreme violence of the opening scenes is a make it or break it moment, and Deadman Wonderland succeeds. Not only was I captured by the mysterious red cloaked figure, but I was struck the aftermath and subsequent conviction of our hero Ganta. That isn’t your typical how I got my powers shonen fair, at least not in recent memory. The whole prison in an amusement park aspect is a bit weird to get behind, but the mysteries started in the first episode make it worthwhile. This was a show that felt like “anime” in the most broad-stroke sense of the word that the general populace think of.

Blue Exorcist

Blue Exorsist is a story you’ve heard before but it reminds you there’s a reason you enjoy it. The extra appealing thing about Blue Exorsist for me was the elimination of the school aspect by making Rin a bit more of a troubled youth. Rin is a guy you can root for because he just can’t seem to catch a break, the supermarket scenes are hilarious. The supernatural elements are pretty creepy a times and there are hints at true violence to come so it balances well the drama and comedy.

When I sat down to write this preview one thing popped into my mind. Blue Exorcist reminds me of Bleach when Bleach was at its peak of fun. Rin is a good guy who just can’t avoid trouble who sees a part of the world that most people can’t see and therefore he seems like a thug. But so far even in this first episode Rin seems to have a bit more zest to him than Ichigo. The cast is lively and strong right out of the gate which is important for a show like this. The plot is your basic story of a young man with a tremendous amount of power who has no proper training and a curse to go along with his abilities. But so far the story seems fresh especially with the Christian trappings of the setting that seem reasonably well researched. I am curious if that will make it more or less appealing to a Western audience.  I don’t think this series is going to win over anyone burnt out of the shonen fighting genre but it is a nice new title with the real potential to suck people in. We have not had a new Bleach or Naruto for a while and I think this has the potential to be that new show that gets a popular long-term following in the US.

Hold:

Toriko

This show is Shonen Jump through and through with a gourmet foodie twist! Toriko is fun and funny in its pursuit of rare and often deadly cuisine but this is another Weekly Shonen Jump title so you better believe the episode count is going to be waaaaay up there.

X-Men

It feels like the X-Men but it clearly has an unmistakable Japanese twist to it. The problem with Iron Man and Wolverine was both of them felt like they were stuck between worlds but in a way that removed the best of either style. The X-Men have a sentai team feel with Cyclops being the angsty leader, Wolverine is the rebel that lives to butt heads, Beast is the brains, and Storm is the token woman and peacemaker. Those are sort of the roles they have in the original comic but is has a very anime feel to the roles. I think the second episode will be a bit of a better indicator of how things are going to go.

Drop:

Aria the Scarlet Ammo

The best character in this show is by far the machine-gun toting Segway. My hope is the plot of this show is actually about the Segway Mafia’s strategic murdering of the entire cast and we were subjected to seeing all these boring, flat, unengaging characters to know why they should be killed.

Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera

So the old lady spinning her super floppy breasts at the bathhouse, the monster that uses a giant metal penis spike as a weapon, and night raids to steal toilet paper are almost expected parts of any Go Nagai work. The things that threw me off the most was the direction. The best example was an almost Scooby-Doo style chase sequence in the school at night complete with musical accompaniment. The character designs are also very clearly updated versions of the 70’s designs that while having modern touches are still unmistakably based on something from the 70s. Like everything Go Nagai touches you will probably either have placed this on your calendar as a must watch title or are getting ready to burn it on a pile of Shameless School tankoubon.

Dog Days

If this show was made for 10-year-old boys then it seems pretty okay; if in fact it was made for adults then it is pretty lame. Anyone happen to know what time this airs? Dog Days is cute and mildly amusing, but has nothing to really hold your interest. The situation isn’t particularly dire or intense and on the other hand isn’t a hilarious comedy so the whole thing feels middle of the road. The series does happen to have major voice acting talent which will probably be why some people watch it.

It has to be a pretty awful spring season for me to not find some shows to watch and this season is thankfully no exception.  I am going to try to keep up with Tiger and Bunny, Deadman Wonderland, Blue Exorcist, X-Men, Hanasaku Iroha, [C], Ano Hana, Sket Dance, and Electromagnetic Wave Woman. I may drop some of those show if my interest falls off but so far all of them have shown some potential for me even if one or two of them are probably better off on the wait and see pile. I might take up Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi if I have to drop too many of the other shows. Now all I have to do is sit back and wait for Fate/Zero.

So as far as what I’m personally keeping up with this season goes, I’m actually taking a backseat for the most part this season. Titles I decided on were Ano Hana and Hanasaku Iroha, but that may change. After the now infamous 3rd episode of Iroha, I’m close to replacing it but I’m checking out the next couple of episodes to be certain. So in the mean time I’m also watching Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi.

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