Anime of Tomorrow
Tag Archives: monster
Summer 2012 (12 episodes) (title literal translation – So, I Can’t do H) (more info)
Is it just my own personal preference, or does red hair and red eyes immediately make a girl that much sexier? I’m happy to see that H ga Dekinai realizes every woman doesn’t have massive boobies so some credit goes to the character designers who realize other body types exist. It also finds ways to be creative with its ecchi—using some really hilarious imagery to tell a few clever jokes.
The concept of perversion being used as an energy source is hardly original, but all in all the plot thus far is not overtly offensive and doesn’t make me loathe myself for liking it. Main character Ryoksuke, though quite lecherous, isn’t overbearingly crude or misogynistic. Instead he exudes pride in being a man, claiming that women are treasures to be loved rather than objects to be enjoyed (even if he doesn’t perfectly practice what he preaches, it’s still a modicum of honesty and a little chivalry). It’s a refreshing take on your typical ecchi anime and while I doubt anything particularly intelligent will come of it, if you’re looking for a fun diversion that isn’t utterly brainless, at least a small measure of enjoyment can be derived from this series.
As far as ecchi goes, you could do worse than H ga Dekinai. If nothing else, it’s better than the oddly-mismatched combination of religion and ecchi as seen in Ah! My Buddha, doesn’t have the implications of slavery and female obedience in Heaven’s Lost Property and the story premise and character designs are better than High School DxD.
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.
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.
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.”
Final impression – good atmosphere around a passable story (6/10)
Winter 2010 (12 episodes) (title literal translation – Wolfed Away)
Hiroshi’s father, an author of folklore and occult novels, has decided to move the family to the remote, countryside village of Jogamachi. His friendly attitude and city-boy personality allow Hiroshi to quickly make friends with his classmates. But the one thing he never really becomes accustomed to the unusual traditions of this backwater town. It becomes increasingly suspicious for Hiroshi when the dreary Nemuru, his classroom representative (daughter of the town’s oldest, traditional family) tells him to stay away from the old side of town across the river. But the apprehension really kicks in when people suddenly start leaving Jogamachi and the flimsy explanations for their quick departures just don’t make sense.
Ookami Kakushi’s most distinctive feature is its original drawing style that feels suave and matches perfectly with the fog of mystery that surrounds the story. The writing is pretty good, too—pacing out just the right amount of information to feed your appetite, while managing to keep you hungry for more. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t leave much of an impact when it’s over. Without spoiling too much, it’s a fairly standard “spirited away,” scenario that gets much less intriguing when the big surprise is that the circumstances are only superficially supernatural. All in all, it’s a good show that gets you to feel for the characters and manages its allotments of suspense with skillful timing. Certainly not for people who don’t care for slow, moody anime, Ookami Kakushi is a fine example of well-composed atmospheric pacing.
Initial impression – if you haven’t seen Bakemonogatari, go watch it so you can fully enjoy its sequel
Winter 2012 (11 episodes) (title literal translation – Imitation Story) (more info)
Perhaps I simply received bad information or maybe I read it incorrectly, but I had the distinct impression that Nisemonogatari was going to be primarily about Araragi’s little sisters. But so far we’ve only seen Tsukihi berating her older brother for his cluelessness when it comes to women’s hearts and Karen is thus far completely absent. It all starts with Araragi’s free spirit getting reigned in by Senjougahara’s pure black, oppressively sadistic affection. Then the lion’s share of this first episode is Araragi and Hachikuji playing with semantics in the Japanese language to great comic effect that feels like something straight out of this anime’s predecessor, Bakemonogatari. The distinct lack of a mission for Araragi to pursue in Nisemonogatari leaves an empty feeling of directionlessness. Maybe this is going to be the new facet that sets Nisemonogatari apart from its roots and will allow it to just indulge in its hilariously reckless tempo. Bottom line, if you liked the original series, then Nisemonogatari is definitely going to please because the spirit that made Bakemonogatari Anime of the Year for 2009 is still alive and well.
Final impression – a pleasant diversion (7/10)
Summer 2011 (12 episodes) (title literal translation – Dantalian’s Bookshelf) (alternate title – The Mystic Archives of Dantalian)
In 1920s Europe, Heward “Huey” Disward is given a large mansion and library as inheritance by his late grandfather. He is also given a key to which he does not know the lock it opens. Living in the mansion is the library’s keeper, the lolita-fashion-wearing Dalian. She explains that as the library’s new owner, it is now Huey’s duty to track down books that have gone missing from his grandfather’s library. These books are dangerous items that hold forbidden knowledge that can easily be twisted towards nefarious ends. In order to fulfill his new role, Huey makes a contract with Dalian, giving him access to the library of cursed books she holds locked in her heart. Thus begins his mission to tie up the loose ends of his grandfather’s book obsession (and help a bunch of people along the way).
In my experience at least, Gainax just doesn’t seem to do very much middle ground. They’re either filling my recycling bin with the likes of Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt or gracing my all-time-best list with gems like Gurren Lagann. So I’m pleased to say they’re finally starting to fill in the middle of their spectrum with titles like Dantalian no Shoka. I’m also happy that it’s weighted towards the good, rather than the bad, because when it comes to Gainax, you just never now what you’re going to get until you start watching. The concept of using works of literature as tools to move the world in fantastical ways, while a little dull at times, is nonetheless fascinating. Through this, we get treated to quite a few wonderful views of pride, love, generosity and humility among other traits of the human condition. Additionally, the banter between Dalian and Huey never gets old and is an example of well-orchestrated comic relief in an otherwise serious setting. But while Dantalian no Shoka is certainly a fresh idea, it is hindered slightly by the all too common problem of having an annoyingly nebulous conclusion.
Final impression – Only for unabashed CLAMP fans (4/10)
In a remote village, Saya Kisaragi is the shrine maiden entrusted with slaying the Elder Ones—fearsome monsters that feast on the townspeople. But when she has free time, she goes to high school, talks with her friends and enjoys coffee at a local café. As she continues her mission to protect the town, small details start to converge together that just don’t add up. Where do the Elder Ones come from? To whom did Saya promise to guard the village? And the greatest question, who was Saya’s mother? She had better figure out the answers to these questions before it’s too late and everyone gets eaten.
First impressions can’t always be trusted and that is never truer than in Blood-C. Talk about betraying your legacy. Blood the Last Vampire and Blood+ had a likeable cast of characters, excellent pacing and terrific endings. Even the live-action Blood the Last Vampire compares favorably to Blood-C and that’s pitiful. The only reason I completed watching it is because I enjoy CLAMP’s artwork, making it the only possible redeeming feature. I don’t know what Blood-C’s upcoming movie will do with this setup that the anime gave us. However, 95% of the anime was an utterly pointless jaunt on the way to its eventual cliff-hanger ending. The whole anime could have easily just not existed and twenty minutes added to the beginning of the movie to accomplish the same effect.
Final impression – refreshing, but could’ve been better 8/10
Fall 2010 – (title literal translation – Blooming Flowers – Samurai Girls)
The young samurai Muneakira returns from his travels around Japan to find the wanted criminal Yukimura being hunted by his childhood friend, Princess Sen Tokugawa. Yukimura is a diviner and has come to the capital to warn the country’s leaders that a calamity is on the horizon. However, Sen’s brother, the de facto leader of Japan, has written off the prediction as heresy and has ordered her capture. However, things get messy when Muneakira’s chivalrous nature leads him to take Yukimura’s side. When the battle is looking bleak, a mysterious samurai girl named Jyuubei descends from the heavens to defend Muneakira with her otherworldly strength. Who is this monstrously powerful young woman and what is her relationship to Muneakira?
Samurai Girls is set in a fantasy-style modern Japan, in a world that experienced a very different end to World War II. As I often do when a specific plot element excites me, I’m going to mention that I have a soft spot for alternate history stories, so this anime may rank higher on my scale than others might rate it. Given the excessive ecchi, even I would have expected my own rank for Samurai Girls to be a much lower score. But there’s a lot of innovation throughout the anime that is very fresh; resulting in the ecchi being more icing on the cake than excessive sugar. Using inkblots to censor the anime’s TV version was a stylistic stroke of genius. Unnatural rays of light that censor other, similar anime like Koihime Musou are getting cliché and tacky. But enough about the ecchi. Samurai Girls as a concept isn’t anything new. Attractive women with superhuman abilities is common enough, but it gets executed very well in Samurai Girls. There is a great balance of story and action, with pretty much every character having likable, relatable traits. The art style is also refreshing, with very sharp shading and thick lines that makes the entire anime look like it was painted with a wide brush. Excellent opening and ending theme music round out a surprisingly awesome anime.
Initial impression – fascinating
Huey has inherited his late grandfather’s legendary private book collection. However, the collection comes with a price – he must also become the protector of the Bibliotheca de Dantalian (in plain English, “the Library of Dantalian”). His determination as the Bibliotheca’s new guardian is put to the test when he meets Dalian, a girl who was in his grandfather’s care. Together they seek out a book stolen from Huey’s grandfather by a man named Conrad. As they proceed through Conrad’s mansion, Huey discovers the stolen book contained a terrible curse and the monsters that lived within its pages have been inadvertently set free. He’s going to need Dalian’s help to seal the book’s curse and prevent the monsters from escaping the mansion – or eating him.
Gainax and I have a bit of a love / hate history that seems to be finding some middle ground for the first time in Dantalian no Shoka. With Gainax you can nearly always expect great writing and some really unique plot elements and Dantalian definitely delivers in that aspect. However, I’m not convinced by the first episode that the concept of cursed books causing the world problems is going to have very much lasting appeal as the anime progresses. The relationship between Huey and Dalian is delightfully grating, but punctuated by the knowledge that they both need one another, which adds another level of depth to their characters. I’m optimistic this is going to turn into something really exciting.
Here’s a question… should Dalian’s clothing style still be called, “lolita,” or “gothic lolita,” when that type of clothing actually fits the setting and time period?