Ashita no Anime

Anime of Tomorrow

Tag Archives: action

Haiyore! Nyaruko-san Ep. 1

Initial impression – just…what? (2/10)

Spring 2012 (dropped at 1 of 12 episodes) (English title – Nyarko-san: Another Crawling Chaos) (more info)

What do you get when you try to cross a romantic, moe comedy with Lovecraft?  The jumbled mess that is Haiyore! Nyaruko-san, that’s what. Seriously, just what were they thinking when they came up with the setting for this show?  Were they throwing darts at post-it notes or did they just spin a roulette wheel of possible themes?  Perhaps it might have worked if the writers didn’t actually think that they could spin these two mismatched concepts into something with real-world ties—‘cause really, how can anyone think that turning Nyarlathotep into a female, alien-otaku is a good idea?  It expends way too much energy trying to legitimize itself as something more than the sum of its subtractive parts and it just doesn’t work.  Also, it makes a lot of obscure references to the Cthulhu mythos that only someone deeply familiar with Lovecraft’s work is likely to understand.  It’s so full of itself that it can’t see how unfathomably thick it is.  I actually find this kind of poorly constructed amalgam to be insulting in the way the viewers are just expected to roll with it and accept something so half-baked.  It also doesn’t do a very good job constructing its more romantic side with the male lead seemingly having some kind of bipolar disorder.  He knows that his new protector is a crazy, nutzo, wild girl, but one minute he’s dealing out punishment for her transgressions by stabbing her with a fork and the next he’s enraptured by her wiles.  Is this proof of the concept that the hotter a girl is the crazier she’s allowed to be?  Well whatever…I think I’ve adequately made my point that Haiyore! Nyaruko-san is not worth any more of my time.

Tsuritama Ep. 1

Initial impression – I want to like it but…eh… (5/10)

Spring 2012 (dropped at 1 of 11 episodes) (title literal translation – Fishing Sphere) (more info)

There is a not-so-fine line between playfully random and simply making no sense at all and Tsuritama dances dangerously between the right and wrong sides of that divide.  For one, it’s got a fairly wild cast including Yuki the overly self-conscious transfer student, Natsuki the local fishing prodigy, Haru the self-proclaimed alien who can talk with fish and an as-of-yet unnamed Indian character who works for the MIB and has a duck named Tapioca as his partner.  It’s really all over the place with its themes, but I feel like praising it because it seems to be going beyond the inane and actually has some substance to the story.  Additionally, unlike other recent anime with all-male casts (Kimi to Boku for example) at the very least it’s doing a better job of holding my attention.  If nothing else it has a decidedly bright and cheerful art style that I really like.  Perhaps I want to be overly generous because I’m a fisherman and I’ve sort of been hoping for a fishing anime to come along someday—blinding myself with optimism because of this anime’s premise.  Sadly there’s certainly no shortage of incomprehensible choices the characters make—like Yuki’s grandmother allowing complete stranger Haru live with them in their new house.  Just…c’mon…seriously?  Are we really expected to just accept that without batting an eye?  On this occasion I’m going with my better judgment and admitting that Tsuritama has some very conspicuous logical flaws that create a damaging discontinuity of tone that I don’t foresee the story being able to adequately recover from.

Eureka Seven AO Ep. 1

Initial impression – more refreshing than expected

Spring 2012 to summer 2012 (24 episodes) (full title – Eureka Seven Astral Ocean) (more info)

All too often these days I’m seeing sequels to series that don’t really need a follow up story to make them feel complete.  Eureka 7 was an epic that I feel did everything it needed to and ended without any indication that a sequel was necessary.  But despite this small reservation, I’m optimistic about Eureka AO because it’s different enough from its parent series that I can see very clearly that it’s not attempting to fill the very big shoes of its predecessor.  And while it does make a great many references to Eureka 7, it is already using its first episode as an opportunity to step out of the shadow of past successes and do its own thing.  How much it’s actually related to the original only time will tell, but I’m already seeing a lot of inconsistencies with the main story that indicate to me that this will be more of a spin-off like the Pocket Full of Rainbows movie than a true, continuous sequel to the original plot.  This makes me happy because that’s the sort of direction I’d prefer Bones to take the rich material they have to work with.  On that note, the best part that surprised me is how much Eureka AO still manages to feel like Eureka 7.  It’s successfully capturing the tone, style and pacing that made its parent series awesome, but is making every effort to seek its own identify and prove that it is capable of standing on its own.  That alone is a remarkable quality for a sequel to possess and my optimism on this series is much higher after watching the first episode than it was before.

Upotte!! Ep. 1

Initial impression – a difficult premise (3/10)

Spring 2012 (more info)

Where Hetalia is the personification of countries and The Sacred Blacksmith is the personification of swords, Upotte!! is the personification of guns.  I want to reinforce this idea that most of the characters in this series are literally guns in human form and their personality types are based on the features of their mechanical references.  Being quite knowledgeable about firearms myself I can see what this anime is trying to do, but I’m pretty sure most of the jokes are going to fly right over the heads of most viewers.  To compensate for this sort of murky comedy, Upotte!! depicts main character Funko as a sexually excited junior high girl who keeps fantasizing about being “handled,” by her new teacher who happens to be a gun expert.  I’m not sure how to adequately convey this new concept of ecchi because I’ve never seen an anime that manages to keep its fetishes limited to its writing while visually maintaining its innocence.  Upotte!! is trying to be unique and original, but maybe it’s just trying too hard because I can’t see how its concept is going to be anything more than incomprehensibly goofy.

Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? of the Dead Ep. 1

Initial impression – more silliness

Spring 2012 (10 episodes) (title literal translation – Is this a Zombie? of the Dead) (more info)

And so begins Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? of the Dead, the second season of a series that I thought already did everything it needed to the first time.  Ayumu, the zombie who is so alive you’d swear he’s just a normal human, is still living with a nice variety of three young women and his latent masou-shoujo powers continue to be sought after by Megalo monsters dressed in gakuran.  What more could be added to this ecchi comedy series definitely hasn’t been made clear in the first episode—other than Ayumu is going to have a much harder time feigning normalcy than he was able to during the first season.  Given the title animation, it looks like old enemy Kyoko is back for round two and she’s just as crazy as before.  Other than that, it seems Kore wa Zombie 2 is going to just sort of do its own thing—following on in the first season’s wacky, ecchi formula of oddly combined character archetypes that manage to be cool in a very nonchalant manner.  I’m not optimistic the second season will compare favorably with the first (few sequels do) but I’m ready to see where Ayumu’s new misadventures lead him.

Hiiro no Kakera Ep. 1

Initial impression – deliberately hazy (4/10)

Spring 2012 to summer 2012 (24 episodes) (title literal translation – Scarlet Fragment) (more info)

If an anime can’t make its story clear within the first episode, I worry about the pacing of events to come.  Hiiro no Kakera does a decent job setting up some suspense and mystery and I see Tamaki Kasuga headed in a definite direction that is going to be full of challenges.  However, not knowing the exact role she is to play in this murky, spirit-infested, backwater village leaves me just as confused as her.  Just who is she and why is she so important that she requires high-class secret service hidden among her classmates to keep an eye on her at all times?  On that note, the biggest thing I’m relieved to see is that this series does not seem to be the pretty-boy anime that it superficially appeared to be at first glance.  The focus is all on Tamaki and while she may be a tad harsh on some of her male guardians, at least she isn’t fawning on them like some weird, reverse harem.  I see the potential for something interesting in Hiiro no Kakera, but there’s just not enough substance there to hold my attention.

Zetman Ep. 1

Initial impression – too niche (4/10)

Spring 2012 (13 episodes) (more info)

Zetman doesn’t seem to have much going for it.  It’s already very clear what the story is going to be about and I fear it’s going to stick to such a standard formula it won’t be able to deviate into something more creative.  I’m also not fond of the very cliché “Dragonball hair” moment during the climax of episode one, but despite my misgivings there’s some great action and the plot builds on some very formative moments that will clearly shape the characters’ futures in the coming episodes.  The art style also isn’t my favorite with a very “Japan hero-show,” design for the appearance of the superhero suits reminiscent of Power Rangers.  It’s very unimaginative and childish for something that clearly wants to market itself to a more mature audience.   So it seems Zetman is firmly going to be a sort of hyper-shounen anime that isn’t strictly bad.  Unfortunately, it has such narrow appeal that the people who like it will really like it, but everyone else is just going to say, “meh.”

Accel World Ep. 1

Initial impression – the beginning of something really cool

Spring 2012 to summer 2012 (24 episodes) (title synonym – Accelerated World) (more info)

The concept of using a virtual world parallel to reality as a setting concept isn’t new territory.  From .hack//SIGN to Sword Art Online coming this July, this type of series has a long and varied history.  So if Accel World wants to stand apart from the crowd, it needs to find something it can make its own.  And boy does this series look promising.  For starters, if you’re going to go all out and make your main character a pathetic protagonist—the unlikely hero—you can’t be more thorough than Haruyuki.  He’s short, chubby, whiny, nerdy, the target of bullies and above all he’s dishonest with his feelings and with the feelings of others.  His own self-image is so poor that even his online avatar mirrors his lowly existence.  Kuroyukihime is everything Haruyuki is not—beautiful, shrewd, popular, affluent and most importantly mysterious—making her his perfect mirror opposite.  Seemingly on a whim, she guides him to a breaking point and gives him the chance to release all of his emotions in a rage of vengeance.  But he remains composed and opts to play things smart rather than allow his new abilities to go to his head.  The writing continues to prove its purposeful vision when Haruyuki’s new skills are put to a real test.  All too often these kinds of anime devolve into a boring “battle of wills,” in which whoever wants the win more is the one who achieves victory.  But Haruyuki is a thinker and when facing insurmountable odds his cleverness continues to be his greatest asset.  Seeing the underdog finally discover that his strength is knowledge is uplifting and a really smart way to grow his personality.  With a sharp art style and gorgeous character designs I have high hopes that Accel World is going to be one of spring 2012’s best anime.

Shakugan no Shana (review)

Final impression – a triumphant beginning (10/10)

Autumn 2005 to winter 2006 (24 episodes + 1 OVA) (title literal translation – Shana of Burning Eyes, English synonym – Shana the Fire-Eyed)

High school has started and Yuji Sakai is already making the most of his youth.  But on his way home one day he steps into a sealed zone that is separated from the normal flow of time.  In here, he is attacked by monsters intent on devouring this strange human who can move within their trap.  But at the last second he is saved by a beautiful girl with flaming red hair; easily overpowering his attackers.  But despite protecting him from the monsters, it turns out Yuji Sakai is already dead.  His existence was eaten by a denizen of the Crimson World some time ago and all that remains of him is a tiny spark that will soon burn out.  He decides to spend his last few days before he disappears in the company of his savior, aiding her in any way that he can before he is gone without a trace.  However, a fortunate turn of events may give him an unexpected reprieve from oblivion.

Shakugan no Shana is a spectacular story.  It starts with the initial, horrifying concept of the enemies of humanity consuming people’s very existence as energy, leaving nothing behind to remember them by.  It’s a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness that is dramatically mitigated by Yuji’s ability to keep a positive attitude about the whole situation.  He never despairs and is always thinking about how he can best make use of his limited potential.  It’s a testament to the tremendous strength of character people can exhibit when cornered by the most trying circumstances.  The series expands on its intellectual, action-filled beginning and moves into a more romantic theme as the steely Shana realizes that she’s not an emotionless killing machine and her feelings for Yuji go beyond mere camaraderie.  Even the final battle is more than it superficially appears to be because the plot never misses a chance to include a thought-provoking discussion about the characters’ inner motives.  And then to top of the amazing writing is the gorgeous art style of Ito Noizi and excellent music courtesy of Mami Kawada, KOTOKO and several other bands and singers who knew just the right style to set the mood for this epic series.  In short, the first season of Shakugan no Shana struck a perfect balance between fighting, philosophy, artistic tone and romance to create an amazingly profound first season.

Another (review)

Final impression – slightly inconsistent horror (7/10)

Winter 2012 (12 episodes)

After his father goes on a long business trip to India, Kouichi Sakakibara suffers a collapsed lung and moves to the countryside village of Yomiyama to live with his Aunt and grandparents.  While recovering in the hospital, he encounters a mysterious girl wearing an eye patch who is walking to the morgue to deliver a doll.  He’s unsure what to make of this strange occurrence until he meets the girl again in his class at junior high school and inexplicably, he seems to be the only person who acknowledges her existence.  As it turns out, her name is Mei Misaki and she has an important role in preventing a horrifically deadly curse from befalling the class.

Another could have been a much better horror / mystery anime if it had managed to keep a more consistent tone.  Instead it allows itself to stumble into the pitfalls of appealing to the viewers in completely unacceptable ways.  Most notable is the very misplaced swimsuit episode that makes it impossible to take the series seriously afterwards.  But for all it does wrong, Another is a very good horror anime.  You’re always kept on your toes with its consistent pacing and it gives just enough information to answer the questions of the previous episode while providing enough new content to keep you invested in the next episode.  It may be a simple formula, but its tried and true effectiveness is not to be undersold.  The character of Mei Misaki was perfect for providing a suitable amount of misdirection to keep you guessing about her role in the story and Kouichi’s levelheadedness in the face of all the darkness around him is a beacon of hope and sanity in the frenzied chaos.  And while the series is far from perfect, the ending gives a satisfying conclusion when you realize the hints were there all along.

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