Ashita no Anime

Anime of Tomorrow

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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.

Code:Breaker Ep. 1

Initial impression – overly simple (4/10)

Autumn 2012 (13 episodes) (more info)

Code:Breaker is one of those anime that’s just trying too hard.  It’s got this gritty, edgy attitude pushing a punishing level of violence that feels out of place with its art style that resembles a series geared towards a younger audience.  It has potential because the story so far is showing good pacing; meshing a little mystery with misdirection.  Then there’s Rei, the male lead who is feeling very much the antihero—believing death to be both just and merciful.

However, the female lead, Sakura, is showing signs of poor characterization between her hot/cold personality that’s both tenacious while at the same time tending to give up too easily.  Misunderstandings about her interest in Rei inevitably can only go in one direction—presumed romance, leading to a comedic relationship—possibly with the heroine exhibiting tsundere traits—that ultimately leads to a real romance.  The stink of cheese isn’t too bad, but it’s strong enough for me to comfortably send Code:Breaker to the recycle bin.

K Ep. 1

Initial impression – fast action, slow story (4/10)

Autumn 2012 (13 episodes) (more info)

You can go ahead and accuse me of having a short attention span if you happened to watch more and reach a different conclusion, but I’ve learned to trust my instincts when it comes to series that cannot encapsulate the heart of the story in the first episode.  Yes, K looks really nice—the tall and skinny character designs and pretty boys are reminiscent of Clamp (even though this isn’t a Clamp work).  It’s ok to leave some details up in the air to reveal later, but I need more than K has offered so far in order to get invested.  I don’t like being left hanging to such a degree that I’m confused or simply left in the mood, “So that’s it, huh?”

There’s certainly an interesting mystery as to why the main character Yashiro is being hunted by multiple parties and yet doesn’t seem to know why, but the pie that is K has too much icing and not enough filling.  It really lollygags on plot development in its first episode compensating— unsuccessfully—by filling itself with overly dramatic fights and chases that would make a Final Fantasy fan proud.  And while that may be enough for some, I’ve seen enough of K to let it go here.

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.

Zetsuen no Tempest Ep. 1

Initial impression – revenge served with a side of saving the world

Autumn 2012 (12 episodes) (English title - Blast of Tempest) (more info)

Some Japanese writing, whether it be JPRGs or anime has a tendency to be lacking in backstory at the start.  But I think Zetsuen no Tempest is one of those stories where it’s ok to not disclose all the details up front.  After all, who in their right mind among the common folk could predict the coming of a supernatural disaster?  I really like the immediacy of the conflict because being forced to pick a side with little knowledge of the core causes of the conflict is a great way to force someone’s hand into making a decision they’re going to regret.

There’s also a great lesson to be learned about dealing with dangerous and determined enemies—isolation may not be the most permanent solution to getting rid of them.  Hakaze’s resourcefulness has a fantasy-esque MacGuyver feel to it that resonates with me on a couple of different, seemingly disconnected levels.  The overall feel has a bit of a Guilty Crown vibe to it, but so far while none of the characters are coming out as likeable just yet, they all have unique and exciting personalities—being neither jerks nor wimps.  But if the setting is still a bit of a mystery after the first episode, the motives of the characters are very clear and most of their goals overlap along the theme of recovering something that was lost.  The way they have all managed to coincide to create a web of comradeship despite how their personalities constantly clash gives moments for some lighthearted chemistry to take off the edge.

If the first episode of a series can leave me in the dark about little details, encapsulate the cast’s overarching motives and make me interested to know what’s going to happen next, then it’s done its job quite well and Zetsuen no Tempest nailed each of those points perfectly.  I also have a part of me that loves characters who meld justice and vengeance into one mouth-wateringly satisfying vendetta.  And since it’s made by Bones, it’s probably going to be pretty good; even if it doesn’t turn out to be a masterpiece, I’m doubtful I’m going to be disappointed.

Shin Sekai Yori Ep. 1

Initial impression – doesn’t waste any time getting into the story

Autumn 2012 (12 episodes) (title literal translation – From the New World) (more info)

Shin Sekai Yori doesn’t have even one second of introduction as to what the heck is going on.  Right away we’re tossed into the deep and expected to start traversing dangerous waters.  And while I’m definitely interested in the mythos of the setting, the fact that so much of the first episode remains unexplained has left me very confused.  But I’m not going to hold it against the anime just yet because it’s only the first episode, the writing and pace are quite good and there’s still plenty of time to get everything sorted out.  In a lot of ways I can see the motives of Shin Sekai Yori already taking shape, so I’m fine with not understanding for now.

On a metaphoric level there are some really strong themes about the fear of growing up and the uneasiness of being trapped between the worlds of child and adult, not knowing how to move forward but at the same time being unable to go back.  For these young people—heroine Saki Watanabe in particular—it seems the stakes are quite high because if you can’t become an adult properly, bad things can happen.  This adds a really tense horror element to the atmosphere that has me excited to see what happens next.  With sharp visual and setting designs as well as a strong theme involving Shinto, I know that Shin Sekai Yori is going to be worth a closer look.

Hagure Yuusha no Estetica Ep. 1

Initial impression – a good idea that’s not on a solid foundation

Summer 2012 (12 episodes) (title literal translation – Aesthetics of a Rogue Hero) (more info)

From what I can glean from Hagure Yuusha’s first episode, people are being taken from our world to another dimension where they are put to the task of fighting a war for the denizens of that realm.  Part of this process involves giving normal humans superpowers and naturally some people want to use their new abilities to find their way back home, as Akatsuki Ousawa has successfully accomplished.  Returners like our main character retain their abilities and are put through a training program called Babel to put their powers to use here on Earth.

Again, Hagure Yuusha is one of those anime with an interesting premise, decent writing and generally agreeable characters that messes itself up with unnecessary ecchi.  Akatsuki brings a naked girl back from the other realm in his backpack for as-of-yet undisclosed reasons and he has the ability to remove women’s will to fight by stripping them of their lingerie without removing their rest of their clothes.

Thankfully, I don’t have to pretend to enjoy this series too much in spite of its ecchi because it’s already starting to establish a typical list of character archetypes—the perverted protagonist, confused victim-girl who is posing as his little sister, arrogant student council president.  Cue blank stare as I sarcastically marvel at this list of revolutionary thinking.

If it could have taken itself more seriously and the creators had been more confident about their work, I’d be much more willing to like Hagure Yuusha.  As it currently stands I find myself trapped between a cool story and too much ecchi; disappointed at how many times I’ve had to concede that flaw over the years.

Dog Days 2 Ep. 1

Initial impression – more of the same with more characters

Summer 2012 (12 episodes) (more info)

Dog Days 2 takes place a few months after season one’s ending.  Now Shinku has returned presumably for the purpose of just having fun playing the tournament-like war games that shape the culture of Flonyard—as opposed to being Biscotti’s last-ditch trump card hero to bring them back from the brink.  He’s also brought two friends along, childhood friend Rebecca and his kind-hearted cousin and fellow rival athlete, Nanami who is quickly adopted by Galette as their own hero.

As in the first season, this is a series that is pretty mediocre all around.  The end of season one wrapped things up so nicely, so I’m dubious that this sequel is necessary. Bringing along Shiku’s friends and adding them to the mix feels lacking imagination and I can almost feel the desperation to find something for everyone to do. Early signs are this series is going to be a mirror image of season one with additional characters added to the mix.  It even continues the unnecessary little habit of having the female characters’ clothes fly off in the middle of battle for no other reason than facepalmingly pitiful fanservice (you don’t even get to see anything approaching risqué).  Really the only reason I’m watching this series is to listen to the skilled voice acting and singing of Yui Horie.

Whether some big crisis is going to befall the land like it did in season one remains to be seen at this early stage, but I wouldn’t put it past this anime to once again centralize on the theme of rivals/enemies putting aside their differences for the sake of saving the day—probably something that’s a bit too standard, childish and cliché for most people’s tastes.

As an annoying afterthought, Working!! 2 started this pattern, but I think it’s worth saying again that adding an ‘ at the end your anime’s title is a terrible way of denoting that it’s a sequel.  Has just using a 2 or the roman numeral II simply gone out of fashion?  What happens if you decide to do a third season?  Is the title going to have ‘’ ?

Dakara Boku wa, H ga Dekinai Ep. 1

Initial impression – surprisingly not so bad

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.

After trying to sneak a peek at Risara’s underwear, Ryosuke finds himself in a sea of red grass.

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.

Arcana Famiglia Ep. 1

Initial impression – the cards say that things look good

Summer 2012 (12 episodes) (title literal translation from Italian – Arcana Family) (more info)

Having played Persona 3 & 4 extensively and studying a lot of the mythos in those games I’ve become quite familiar with tarot.  It usually doesn’t get the service due for its complexity the way Persona gave it, so I’m interested to see if Arcana Famiglia can do something similarly respectable with its source material.

Unfortunately, I’m not optimistic about it because right off the bat this appears to be an anime that’s going to be centralized on a tournament to determine the successor to this mafia-style family.  Back when Naruto was young and Flame of Recca wasn’t ancient history, I made the discovery that pretty much any anime whose plot becomes entangled in a tournament has run out of ideas.  To lead in with that sort of catch as the story’s driving force isn’t encouraging to me.

The cast is already pretty big, but if there are presumably twenty-two or more characters, (one for each of the major arcana and side characters) I fear things will be spread too thin before long.  So far it has a style that is showing some well-planned fight sequences and the powers granted by each major arcana—while sometimes a bit too obvious—are being used creatively enough so that it doesn’t feel too drab.

The soft-spoken but authoritative voice of Mamiko Noto is a great fit for Felicita.

Putting the story’s heroine in a situation where she needs saving, but has the potential to save herself rather than having to rely on the two young men who have pledged themselves to her is fresh and reassuring.  It indicates to me that everyone is going to have a strong role to play, which ought to keep things interesting.

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