Ashita no Anime

Anime of Tomorrow

Category Archives: Ecchi

Mondaiji-tachi ga Isekai kara Kuru Sou Desu yo? Ep. 1

The Black Rabbit is caughtInitial impression – rough-edged, but good-hearted heros

Winter 2013 (10 episodes) (more info) (title literal translation – The Troublemakers Are Coming From Another World, Right?)

When someone is stuck between a rock and a hard place, it’s good anime logic to call for heroes from other dimensions.  Mondaiji-tachi is still in the early stages, but is showing plenty of the traits associated with a good action / adventure with a worthy cause.  The cast is full of colorful characters with superpowers of suspect origin, but they have enough flexibility to be put to some creative uses.  My biggest complaint about the series so far is the fanservicey design behind the orchestrator of this setup, the Black Rabbit who happens to be a literal bunny girl.  She feels very much like an unnecessary cry for attention from a series that is actually interesting enough in its own right.  Like many series before it, I wish writers would have more confidence in their work to not devalue it with characters like this.  But as she’s the only issue I’m having with this series thus far, I can overlook her and enjoy the battles that may not be keeping me on the edge of my seat, but still have excellent flow.

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai NEXT Ep. 1

The Neighbors Club makes a movieInitial impression – not new enough

Winter 2013 (12 episodes) (more info) (title literal translation – I Don’t Have Many Friends NEXT)

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai NEXT is just a continuation of the first series.  It picks up right where season one left off and continues the misadventures of the Neighbors Club as the group of misfits stumbles their way through trying to figure out how they should function to fit in with society.  While a direct continuation isn’t a bad thing, when it doesn’t exactly have the best source material, just doing more of the same really doesn’t cut it.  In short, I’ll watch NEXT if I have the time because it has its moments, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up dropping it.

Ixion Saga DT Ep. 1

Initial impression – rough and immature (4/10)

Autumn 2012 (12 episodes) (full title – Ixion Saga: Dimensional Transfer) (more info)

Clearly Kon has forgotten rule 29—on the internet, all women are men.  Where Aoi Sekai made fun of the console wars, Ixion Saga makes fun of (MMO)RPGs in general.  It does this by accentuating how mismatched min-maxing players’ outfits look and how by all rights nobody should have the time to charge up a finishing move without someone coming in and delivering a knock-out blow.

But beyond that it’s not very clever.  It really has poor taste in the unscrupulous sensibilities of the party’s cross-dressing maid, makes fun of child marriage and main character Kon is just an unlikeable, lecherous wad that portrays a poor image of the gamer stereotype.  If you like this style of writing and story with fantasy elements mixed with modern heroes in an alternate dimension, Hagure Yuusha did a much better job presenting this subject matter last season and I’ll even encourage you to go check it out instead of wasting time with Ixion Saga.

Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne Ep. 1

Initial impression – if you’re looking for a harem anime, stick to Love Hina (3/10)

Autumn 2012 (12 episodes) (title literal translation – I Love Him, and It Doesn’t Matter If He’s My Brother, alternate title – OniAi) (more info)

Making the lustful character of your series female doesn’t suddenly make it a more acceptable trait.  It may certainly be different from the stereotypical male character in a harem anime who is either terribly shy or uncontrollably lecherous after having been inserted into an all-female environment.  But OniAi makes it worse since hero and heroine are brother and sister—not even stepbrother/stepsister or adopted or cousins.  They’re full blood relatives born of the same parents, turning the degree of perversion up to an uncomfortable level.  It doesn’t even have the stylistic restraint or pretext that Yosuga no Sora showed when that series dealt with this topic.  It’s just in-your-face and says, “this is what this series is going to be about.”

If that wasn’t bad enough, halfway through the first episode is a time skip that’s about as logically placed if OniAi had ended and just started over from scratch.  There’s no reason the student council couldn’t have been introduced in a logical manner and how they came to live together should have been woven into the story over at least another episode.  I don’t know what went through the writers’ minds for them to think this was a good idea.  Even if the girls’ arrivals are revealed via flashbacks that’s just dodging the issue of how out-of-order events are proceeding.  So there.  OniAi is a weird, twisted, badly written harem series and I’m washing my hands of it.

Medaka Box Abnormal Ep. 1

Initial impression – mostly the same, but a little different

Autumn 2012 (12 episodes) (more info)

Picking up exactly where it left off in season one, Medaka Box Abnormal is showing signs of making a big deviation from the storytelling methods it used during its previous iteration.  Where the first season was very episodic and jumped between a terrific variety of colorful characters, the start of Abnormal seems very focused on Medaka to the detriment of the rest of the cast.

Changing things up is not always a bad thing—using previous set pieces as a stepping stone for a new idea can work wonders to put energy into a tired series—but if too much gets mixed up, then can you still call it the continuation of the same story?  The thing is, the first twelve episodes of Medaka Box always kept things fresh enough that I never felt the concept needed to be expanded upon.  It’s kind of like how The World God Only Knows introduced a new major character in its second season when there was still plenty of material to work with using the formula that made it interesting in the first place.  And that’s what I’m fearing will happen to Medaka Box.

This unnecessary change of pace could be distracting and I worry it might devalue the series as a whole.  I’ll continue to watch Medaka Box Abnormal, but I’m going to be biting my lip in apprehension.

Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo Ep. 1

Kindness is Sorata’s greatest strength and his greatest weakness.

Initial impression – could be fresh…could be stale…time will tell

Autumn 2012 to winter 2013 (24 episodes) (title translation – The Pet Girl of Sakura House) (more info)

Sakurasou starts off rather silly, but it’s tempered with the ordinary kindness of the protagonist, Sorata.  Being the sane person in a sea of weirdos is familiar enough territory for anime, so instead I’m going to focus on what I think will be the make or break moment of this first impression for most viewers.  It starts when our protagonist is put in charge of taking care of Mashiro, the newest addition to the Sakurasou dorm. She seems ordinary enough until she drowsily has to be coaxed into dressing and taking care of her morning grooming by our embarrassed male lead.  Some people discredit ecchi very easily as little more than shallow-minded fanservice with no purpose other than attracting attention of a male audience.  This could easily be the case for people who see Mashiro naked at the end of the episode and being dressed by her shy male classmate Sorata.  There are series that are perverted in a lewd way and there are ones that are perverted in a fun way and so far Sakurasou is a lot of fun.

It seems to me that Mashiro is one of those child prodigies whose mother took care of all her domestic chores so she never learned to take care of herself—instead devoting every waking moment to the pursuit of her talent.  I’ve read biographies about these kinds of celebrities and while I may be jealous of their ability, I can understand the mindset of being so involved in your passion turned profession that the time to learn domestic chores and responsibilities falls to the wayside.  And I think that’s the reason I’m interested in seeing how this awkward relationship will develop.

I’m not ready to give Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo my seal of approval just yet because Sorata is one of those overreacting young men who behave irrationally at the sight of a naked woman as if someone poked him in the butt with a cattle prod.  Overall, it’s not yet a stand-out anime, but it looks nice and the characters are kind, open and most importantly funny in a natural way that doesn’t feel like a carefully constructed cast of stereotypes for the purpose of telling a story—more of a random group of young people who just happen to be going to the same school and living together in a dormitory.

Medaka Box (review)

Impression – sometimes smart, sometimes weird but always fun (7/10)

Spring 2012 (12 episodes)

At Hakoniwa Academy, student sovereignty is of utmost importance in the curriculum.  As such, nearly everything for the students is also by the students.  And the new, super-popular student council president, Medaka Kurokami takes this idea to the extreme.  In her obsession to help people she opts to accept and address any request from a member of the student body by allowing them to write down their problems and put them into a suggestion box that informally becomes known as the “Medaka Box.”  With the energy of a caffeinated squirrel, the concentration of a hunting wolf and the compassion of a mother dog she commences to become everyone’s heroine—even the enemies who would reject her kindness.  But even as she turns hostiles into friendlies, Medaka is going to find out there are some minds she just can’t change.

Medaka Box adds itself to the list of quirky student council anime among titles like Seitokai no Ichizon and Seitokai Yakuindomo or even Kaichou wa Maid-sama.  The biggest difference that separates Medaka Box from the crowd is its focus.  Where other student council anime tend to deal with just its members and their misadventures together, Medaka Box constantly flits around to other characters and clubs that require assistance.  It’s a very smooth way to keep things fresh, random, but still all thematically tied to prevent the story from sinking into chaos.

One things I think a lot of people will have trouble overlooking is this anime’s fanservice.  Medaka’s semi-exhibitionist attitude about her body seems like a pitiful excuse to get her to show some skin, but Medaka Box handles this potential pitfall in a surprisingly deft manner.  First, this trait of Medaka feeds into her uninhibited, outgoing personality that is devoid of almost any shame as well as her desire to be the center of attention.  And second, while it took me a little while to realize it, Medaka is the only truly fanservice-y character in the whole series.  So in a weird way, I’m going to have to call this a rare case of ecchi resulting in positive character development.

Towards the end, Medaka Box purports to tread into philosophical territory, but it ultimately feels a little silly and off-tone when compared to the rest of the series’ much freer attitude.  That’s not to say that the messages, “trust your friends,” or “stay true to yourself,” aren’t important themes or morals of the story, but it’s not entirely sincere given the circumstances surrounding how these values are conveyed to the viewer.  But even with this slightly misplaced stylistic shortcoming, I can’t help but be excited for the second season that will be starting in just a few weeks.

Tasogare Otome x Amnesia (review)

Impression – playful and surprisingly touching (8/10)

Spring 2012 (12 episodes) (title literal translation – Dusk Maiden x Amnesia)

Teiichi Niiya heard the stories of the cursed ghost that haunts the old school building, but he never expected her to be so beautiful…or playful.  After discovering her remains hidden beneath an old classroom, he and Yuuko decide to found the Paranormal Research Club. On the surface it’s nothing more than your standard occult-themed student organization, but its true motive is to find a way to help Yuuko recover her lost memories.  Joined by the perky Okonogi and the only other person who can see Yuuko—her great niece Kirie—the four of them set to work solving the supernatural mysteries of their maze-like school.

As Dusk Maiden starts, it’s just oozing with creativity—whether it’s new ways to think about how an incorporeal spirit interacts with the world or how to adequately tell the story of said ghost without being pathetically blunt about what’s going on.  The flow of events at the beginning is a little questionable at times with long flashbacks seemingly taking place out of proper order.  But it never stops being entertaining with something fresh in every episode. It makes you think and smile all the while saying, “that was really smart. I’d never thought about it that way before.”

Probably the best thing about Tasogare Otome is its ending.  It’s very emotionally moving but still manages to keep the generally lighthearted style that made the rest of the series so much fun.  This delicate balance between heart wrenching and comedic elation could have been such a messy let down if it hadn’t been constructed in such a smartly arranged crescendo.  Rarely do I find myself nodding at the end of a series while saying, “I couldn’t have imagined it finishing any other way.” With that kind of reaction, I’m going to call Dusk Maiden of Amnesia a resounding success.

Ebiten: Kouritsu Ebisugawa Koukou Tenmonbu Ep. 1

Initial impression – a random lack of focus (3/10)

Summer 2012 (?? episodes – ONA) (title literal translation – Ebisugawa Public High School “Astronomical” Club) (more info)

While I like the fansub group [Staircase]’s creativity in changing the Astronomy Club’s name to the Asstronomy Club (a euphemism for Assing Around) I’m starting to get sick of these anime whose central premise is a club for being lazy.  I’d think that true laziness would just be going home and skipping the whole complicated club business altogether.

Ebiten’s theme is all over the place and while I appreciate its energy it feels like a total waste of time.  It takes a whole episode for the prospective club member, Itsuki Noya to finally be accepted after being put through a torturous series of “entry tests.”  During the whole sequence none of the other members are particularly enthusiastic about their roles; leaving me wondering why I should be, either.  All the while the thick new girl hasn’t picked up that this isn’t actually the astronomy club despite nothing about these girls having anything to do with stargazing.

It even throws in a token ecchi sequence with some chibi S&M elements that is completely pointless and doesn’t even do a good job of being particularly titillating.  It’s really quite perplexing why this series exists and who it was even made for.  Ebiten isn’t strictly bad in spirit, but it’s such a hodgepodge of ideas from too many semi-popular anime over the past few years with some conspicuous moe sugar blended into the mix of randomness that it leaves itself with nothing distinguishing to offer.

Other than a group of girls trying to keep their personal relaxation club from being disbanded, I can’t made heads or tails of what the overarching story is in this series.  I think Ebiten is just another one of those insubstantial messes that’s shooting in the dark, hoping to hit some kind of nerve in the masses of the anime culture that will turn it into an explosive hit; let down by the fact that it’s firing blanks.

Joshiraku Ep. 1

Initial impression – fourth wall…what fourth wall? (4/10)

Summer 2012 (12 episodes) (title literal translation – Girls’ Ease) (more info)

The five girls of Joshiraku all have their unique personalities and styles and each seems to be getting a pretty equal amount of screen time, so if you’re looking to adopt a character for this moe, comedy series I’m sure one of them will fit your tastes.  But I think the main reason Joshiraku isn’t firing on all cylinders is because a lot of its jokes are very Japanese in nature, from poking fun at other Asian countries to making political commentary about its own government.  And even if you’re up to date on current Japanese politics like I am (sort of), it’s still not exactly a barrel of laughs.

The best way I can describe this series is that it’s sort of like the political cartoon in your favorite national newspaper was given a twist of moe and a seasoning of Japanese; more of a thought-provoking satire than anything really worth smiling about.  While that’s a success in the contest of being unique, I don’t think it has much appeal beyond a niche audience that likes moe, ironic jokes about the government and understands current events in Japan.  I’d think this series would almost be better suited to a short five minute timeslot injected between the evening news for comic relief.

Its plot is also structured in an interesting way.  Joshiraku makes no secret that it knows exactly what it’s trying to do as it frequently comes right out and breaks the fourth wall on a regular basis; each character knowing full well that they are in an anime with a dubious premise.  Because of that I really feel like it’s trying too hard in almost every possible way.  This especially comes out when it goes into fanservice mode after all the characters put on their pajamas to showcase what constitutes, “normal/casual dress,” and one of the girl’s sleeping attire happens to be nude.  So the other girls strip her down and she’s forced to hide behind an oversized pad of paper that doesn’t quite conceal her profile.  The commentary then continues as her cover is used to brainstorm ideas completely unrelated to what happened only a few minutes ago.

So while Joshiraku is silly and cute, it has a lot going against it and if you absolutely need to get your moe fix this season, I recommend Yuru Yuri.

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